ICANN CEO and President Rod Beckstrom spoke about internationalized new generic top-level domains at Gitex, an ICT conference in Dubai that draws 100,000 attendees.
Historic Pledge of Mutual Support with UAE's TRA Follows
10 October 2011, Dubai -- ICANN's New Generic Top-Level Domain Program offers significant opportunities for Middle Eastern organizations to expand their online presence, according to Rod Beckstrom, CEO and President of ICANN.
He stressed the benefits and challenges of new domains for the Middle East, and cited the region's technological know-how as a factor that would encourage the innovation and consumer choice the program is expected to generate.
Beckstrom delivered the keynote address to the Global Leaders Summit, an exclusive meeting of regional leaders, in Dubai, at Gitex, the region's premier technology conference.
"You can apply for new gTLDs in Arabic, Chinese or other scripts," he said. "This is the first time in history that it is possible to apply for new generic top-level domains in internationalized domain scripts. So it means you could apply for terms in Arabic – not only a company name or brand or a city name, but any other word or generic term."
Comparing the creation of the new gTLD program to the development of Dubai as a commercial center, Beckstrom said, "When you open up standards in technology, when you create rules of law, it fosters and allows innovation that none of us can imagine.
"People ask me: what's going to happen to the domain name system now that you are opening up new gTLDs? And the answer is: we don't know. The innovation will come from very unlikely directions."
Beckstrom emphasized that new generic top-level domains, whether internationalized or not, will be added with great care to ensure the security and stability of the Internet's domain name system, which is "job number one for us," he stated.
Beckstrom highlighted the complexity of the application process and the need for applicants to prepare to face substantial obstacles. "Running a top-level domain is not like buying a second-level domain," he noted. "You're actually running a piece of critical [Internet] infrastructure for the world. It's got to be running 24/7, reliably, and for years and years and years."
He stressed that a successful application would require "significant technology expertise or a relationship with a party that will give you that expertise," as well as the significant financial wherewithal necessary to operate an Internet registry.
Beckstrom also corrected a common misconception about the new generic top-level domain program, explaining that organizations running one of the new domains will not be required to sell Internet domain names publicly.
He noted that dot-emirate, the internationalized domain name (IDN) of the United Arab Emirates, was one of the world's first IDNs.
The application window for new gTLDs opens on 12 January 2012 and closes on 12 April. In May, ICANN will publish the list of all domain names that have been applied for.
ICANN Signs First Exchange of Letters with an IDN ccTLD
H.E. Mohamed Al Ghanim, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Director General, and Rod Beckstrom (right), CEO and President of ICANN, exchange letters of mutual support between the United Arab Emirates and ICANN.
After the speech, the United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) formalized its relationship with ICANN through the signing of an exchange of letters. The exchange of letters indicates the UAE's commitment to support the openness, security and stability of the Internet. The letters commit ICANN and TRA to mutual support and to managing ccTLDs (Country Code Top Level Domains) according to best internal practices.
The TRA officially recognizes ICANN's role in coordinating the root services of the Internet, and ICANN officially recognizes TRA's role as the ccTLD manager for .ae and the Arabic IDN .امارات The letters state the intentions of TRA/.aeDA and ICANN to work together to maintain the Domain Name System (DNS) for the .ae and امارات top level domains for the benefit of the Internet community in the UAE and globally.
The signing ceremony took place on 10 October 2011 between H.E. Mohamed Al Ghanim, TRA Director General, and Rod Beckstrom, CEO and President of ICANN, during the Gitex exhibition held at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. The convention continues until 13 October.
The TRA and ICANN today held a press conference after the signing. In his opening speech at the press conference, H.E. Mohammad Nasser Al Ghanim said: "TRA continuously aims to maintain its pace with the latest ICT sector developments. We are aiming to achieve our goals in accordance with ICANN, to reinforce competition in the domain names market, while at the same time guaranteeing Internet safety and stability."
Rod Beckstrom stated, "This is the first internationalized domain name ccTLD agreement that ICANN has signed anywhere in the world, and it reflects the TRA's leading role in the Middle East region in managing .ae and .emirate, the IDN ccTLD."
Prior to his presentation at Gitex, Rod was interviewed at length about new gTLDs on Dubai Eye, Dubai's largest talk radio station. You can hear the podcast on Zawya.com.