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May 7, 2010

What is '.com' in Arabic?

Posted: 10:51 AM ET

If English is your first language, you probably take it for granted that all website suffixes - the .com's, .org's, .gov's and the like - come nicely packaged in Western characters, like the ones you're reading now.

But what if you spoke only Arabic? Or Chinese? Or Russian?

All of those languages make use of a completely different alphabet. And, until this week, none of those alphabets could be used in place of the ".com" portion of an internet address.

Now they can. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced this week that the first sites with all-Arabic Web addresses are now online.

“This isn’t just a minor change for the Internet, it’s a seismic shift that will forever change the online landscape,” Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN, said in a written statement issued Thursday.

“This is the beginning of a transition that will make the Internet more accessible and user friendly to millions around the globe, regardless of where they live or what language they speak.”

The first of these internationalized suffixes is the Arabic form of ".masr," which means "Egypt."

Egypt's internet suffix now will look like this: .eg or .مصر

The Arabic characters read right to left.

This may not sound like a big deal from a Western perspective, but when you flip this scenario around, it's easier to understand, said Brad White, a spokesman for ICANN. Say you wanted to type in the Web address for, but, instead of .com, you had to type in equivalent letters from the Cyrillic alphabet.

"You may not have Russian characters on your keyboard," he said.

White said the switch is part of a long, technical transition to include non-Western characters. The foreign letters first showed up in the main piece of a Web address - so the "CNN" rather than the ".com." But completing the transition is important, he said.

So far, Chinese and Russian characters haven't been included. But 21 countries have applied to have domain name suffixes in 11 different languages. So you'll likely see more of these popping up online soon.

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Filed under: Internet • Web browsers

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...   May 7th, 2010 11:42 am ET


Very immature.

Mr. Bentley   May 7th, 2010 12:16 pm ET

I don't claim to know much about Arabic culture but I can see that the people that decide to post on these blogs obviously don't either. It makes sense that any language be used for the "world wide web." English isn't the only language "world wide."

Joe   May 7th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

English should be the national Language of the world. It is the most widely spoken because America is still the dominant power in the world. If you go to someone else's country you best know their language but when you come here you dont need to learn english which is bs. We invented the internet and there needs to be standards. If you want to convert the page to display a different language fine, but the address should all be the same.

Ian Rodriguez   May 7th, 2010 12:46 pm ET

This is something that finally makes sense and a long time coming. The web isn't all in English, just go look and you can find it in just about any language there is even a English to Pig-Latin translator out there. If one of the ideals this country was founded on was the free press and the free distribution of information, it's hypocritical for there not to be multi-language support for the internet. How else are we to get information into the hands of those in Sudan, or China or the Middle East for that matter. And for every example of a "Great Firewall of China" out there, there exists a way around it. There are always autonimizers and IP masking tools on the internet to get around just about any technology. And while it is a way for ICANN to make more money, why is it bad that companies like ICANN make money and that if banks don't make money, the whole system is going to collapse? Get real, ICANN is a business and needs to pay it's employees like any other one.

----   May 7th, 2010 12:59 pm ET

More people speak Chinese and Spanish than English in the world. So why not other languages as well. Good job

Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:04 pm ET

Scott that was funny!
You have been criticized by some people who find nothing wrong in a show ridiculing Jesus and Christianity but one single joke regarding a group of Middle Eastern people is OFF LIMITS and they belittle you by likening you to following a group of bison?

Typical liberals. We see what happens when THEY run the country. LMAO


Jim H   May 7th, 2010 1:09 pm ET

With the trouble most English speakers have in reading and writing their own language this gives them the opportunity to be regularly wrong on a truly global scale!

raf   May 7th, 2010 1:39 pm ET

i will not submit 🙂

Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:42 pm ET

I agree with you; my point, exactly. All of us have the freedom of speech in this great country to bash and ridicule each other all day long. But should we?

Oh why's easy to hide behind a computer and spout bs. LMAO
It's Friday everyone! Let's go have fun.


Melissa   May 7th, 2010 1:46 pm ET

Oh crap! Am I being non-PC by saying "It's Friday everyone" Because of course you probably suspect I'm an American. Afterall, it's already Saturday in some parts of the world. I mean good Lord....who do we Americans think we are, right? I want to be totally politically correct here......

My apologies to everyone who is not in the USA. I'm a total ignorant person.


hasan kedwaii   May 7th, 2010 1:58 pm ET

Egypt's internet suffix now will look like this: .eg or .مصر

the dot in the arabic suffix is in the wrong place. if you are reading from right to left, the dot will come before مصر not after.

Phlamboozeled by lack of knowledge, once again....

Mark   May 7th, 2010 1:59 pm ET

"If English if your first language..."


Sulima   May 7th, 2010 2:04 pm ET


A correction for you – English is NOT the hardest language to learn. It does however have the most words (though most of us use and know only a small subset of these words). There are much harder languages out there, including Polish, Hungarian, and many of the asian languages.

Mustapha Tatsuya Sing Kim Shinawatr Wu   May 7th, 2010 2:05 pm ET

This is a good thing for the non-English speaking world. The more others can communicate and pass on information in their own language the better for them. Anyone else will still be free to read it if you want. Just learn the language or get a decent translator. Detractors need to take their heads out of their colonial lower backs.

Emad   May 7th, 2010 2:14 pm ET

Thanks Avi. You said what's on my mind.
- From an Egyptian Copt

Anna   May 7th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

Hahaha. I find these comments amusing. For all you people who know "how the world works" don't know jack and if anyone disagrees with you, they're automatically racists. It's kinda like the Anti-War people protest war yet never served a day in their lives. Can't protest it if you never participated first-hand.

bitmaster   May 7th, 2010 2:32 pm ET

@Luigi: TBL is a Brit who invented the World Wide Web while working at MIT. He DID NOT invent the internet. The WWW operates on the internet using HTTP.

We're not all rednecks here, but they are everywhere.

Egypt   May 7th, 2010 2:35 pm ET

"¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

Do you guys really not realize that people have already written blogs and created websites in Arabic?!!! They all already exist; now they just have another extension to add to that list – like .fam, .eg

Norman   May 7th, 2010 2:39 pm ET

@ Joe – May 7th, 2010 12:26 pm ET

You said "English should be the national Language of the world. It is the most widely spoken because America is still the dominant power in the world."

However, but besides being wrong on just about everything else you said, you are also wrong on your comment about English being the most widely spoken language. In fact Chinese is the most widely spoken language.

Karim   May 7th, 2010 2:41 pm ET

For the funny person who posted who cares, I am not sure why you read the article to begin with if you do not care!!

don   May 7th, 2010 2:47 pm ET

rediculous?becuse they are arabic you think they arnt alowed to have internet ? dear jesus yall think u own everything .. americans are becoming greedy .

jam   May 7th, 2010 2:47 pm ET

Oh come on Todd!! Does America own the internet??

phillip v   May 7th, 2010 2:55 pm ET

Too all the people that think america is the best, no it isn't not even close you americans are so ignorant. i completely agree with this article though, it will help the whole world prosper a lot.

Hilda   May 7th, 2010 2:59 pm ET

Hey, Todd just for your info: Middle East is also the home of millions of christians who are proud of their heritage as Christians. It happens I am one of them!!!! This is so sad that some people feel threatened just because of that! I live in America, my husband is American but there are other people out there who are smart, intellegent as well if not more...sorry, but your comment and others like you makes me feel wondering what is wrong with you guys? Why some of Americans are so isolated?

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