Net regulator Icann has switched on a system that allows full web addresses to contain no Latin characters.
For the first time in the history of the Internet, non-Latin characters are being used for top-level domains. The first IDN country-code top-level domains were inserted in the DNS root zone earlier today, Icann announced.
The move is the first step to allow web addresses in many scripts including Chinese, Thai and Tamil.
For now, Icann has approved the inquiries from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
These are the first IDN ccTLDs to appear online as a result of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process which was approved by the ICANN Board at its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea on 30 October 2009.
ICANN said that it had received a total of 21 requests for IDN ccTLD(s) representing 11 languages.
A total of 13 requests have successfully passed through the "String Evaluation" (the second stage of the process) and are hence ready for the requesting country or territory to initiate the request for TLD Delegation (the final stage of the application process). As of today, the first three of these have been delegated into the DNS root zone, which means they are available for use.
Arabic has now become the first non-Latin script to be used as an IDN ccTLD. Arabic is among the most highly used languages on the Internet today. The Middle-East has an average Internet penetration of just over 20%, and shows a big potential for growth.
Website owners in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will now be able to apply for web addresses using the new country codes, and use their primary language for the entire domain name.