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‘UAE must adopt Arabic domain names’ on websites

Martin Croucher / 18 November 2009

DUBAI — In order to better engage with UAE nationals, the government should adopt Arabic-script domain names on its websites, a conference heard 
on Tuesday.

A language barrier can make typing internet addresses difficult for those for whom English is not a native language, said Dr Abdul Rahman Alkhudair, an eGovernment consultant for the Saudi Ministry of Finance.

Egypt’s information minister Tarek Kamel on Monday said that the country had applied for the first domain name in the Arabic alphabet.

Saudi officials were already looking at the adoption of Arabic-script domain names from next year, Alkhudair told the Khaleej Times on the sidelines of an eGovernment conference.

“Some people may not use the internet because of the language barrier,” he said.

“If someone who doesn’t speak English mistypes a single letter when entering an internet address they will go to a different site. It is easy for them to do because they cannot read English script.

“The purpose of government websites is to reach out to the people. This is an important step.”

From 2010, internationalised domain names will become available in a variety of non-Latin scripts, including Japanese, Cyrillic, Chinese and Arabic. The change is expected to revolutionise the internet and lead to an explosion of new content.

“The internet started in English but other languages gradually appeared. This is the way it is evolving,” said Alkhudair. “In our societies, the private sector follows the public sector. Governments in the region should take the lead in driving forward this development,” he said.

Adil Kassabi, key account manager at Init AG for Digital Communication, said that it was important step.

“Government websites should cater for the local population and Arabic needs to be the number one language,” he said.

On Tuesday a conference was held by Datamatix at the Burj Al Arab to explore ways to improve eGovernment services in the GCC could be improved.

Kassabi said that services that could be offered online included anything paying traffic fines or taking out a fishing license.

“The UAE is aiming to be in the top five eGovernment providers within the next five years,” he said. “Judging from current progress it is well on its way to achieving that.”


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