Science, Tech & Environment

Non-Latin web addresses go live

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A page from the Egyptian Ministry of Technology (Arabic script) website.

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Arab nations are leading a "historic" charge to make the world wide web live up to its name. Net regulator Icann has switched on a system that allows full web addresses that contain no Latin characters. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to have so-called "country codes" written in Arabic scripts.

The move is the first step to allow web addresses in many scripts including Chinese, Thai and Tamil. More than 20 countries have requested approval for international domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

According to a BBC report, Icann says the three new suffixes are available for use and will allow for web addresses to be written completely in native characters.

Last Thursday, Tina Dam, Icann's senior director for internationalized domain names, told the BBC that it was "the most significant day" since the launch of the internet, adding that "it's been a very big day for Icann, more so for the three Arabic countries that were the first to be introduced".

But Icann warns that the internationalized domain names (IDNs) would not work immediately, and that computer users would need to install additional "language packs for the missing languages, or specifically finding and installing fonts that support the wanted languages."

More on this story from BBC News
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