Dubai: The global regulator of web addresses, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has officially approved ".shabaka" or the Arabic translation of ".web" as a domain name.
Moving away from non-Arabic internet domain names such as .com, .net and .org, ".shabaka" beat around 1,900 other applicants globally.
The domain will be operational by the middle of this year.
"The new domain will become the centre of all things Arabic on the internet. It is set to totally redefine the way businesses and users approach the internet in the global Arabic speaking community and, at the same time, bridge the gap between Arabic content and Arabic-speaking internet users," said Yasmin Omer, general manager of International Domain Registry, the internet technology company behind the domain.
The domain will only operate in Arabic script on the internet and users will only be able to use it by typing in Arabic. For example, Al Jazeera.shabaka or CNN.shabaka.
"There are many people who speak only Arabic. It will also hold great entrepreneurial potential for Arabic businesses by providing them with a targeted online channel to Arabic internet users. Soon Arabic users will not need to search the sites in Google and don`t need to rely on Google search," Omer said.
The next 90 million Arabic internet users "should expect to navigate the internet in Arabic", she said.
Abbas Jaffar Ali, publisher of tBreak Media, Arabic is gaining importance regionally and is one of the fastest growing languages and fastest growing on Twitter.
"This process is part of expansion and I don`t think .shabaka is going to complicate the internet addresses. It is going to make it easier for users and index the data. It will simplify the process," Abbas said.
He said buying a website address is easy and not costly and many companies will opt for ".shabaka".
".shabaka will be a game-changer for the Arabic community. It will open a channel to intuitively connect Arabic speakers to Arabic content and provide an end-to-end Arabic online experience," Omer said.