Today is a “historic day” for domain names and internationalized domain names says ICAAN as the first three non-Latin script top level domain names go live. All three are country code top level domains under the IDN ccTLD fast track program.
ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) first reported confirmation of the change in October 2009. Since then more than 20 countries have requested approval for international domains but today, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first to be released.
Here is one newly enabled domain with a functional website that works right now: وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر
If your software does not have full IDN support, this might not work exactly as expected and you might end up with something like this:
The ICANN blog explains:
If your software does not have full IDN support, this might not work exactly as expected. You may see a mangled string of letters and numbers, and perhaps some percent signs or a couple of “xn--”s mixed into the address bar. Or it may not work at all.
Making things more interesting, the first three live ccTLDs are all in Arabic scripts: e السعودية. (“Al-Saudiah”), امارات. ( “Emarat”) and مصر. (“Misr”). All three read right-to-left, which may just lead to some confusion.
Expect to see more IDN top level domain names soon. First there will be more IDN ccTLDs, followed by generic top level IDNs in a couple years.
This is a genuinely huge achievement and truly monumental by any standard.
Tina Dam, Senior Director at ICAAN, had this to say:
“The congratulations foremost goes to all of those in the communty that have worked on this for years. That is, those on the ground at the various registries and governments that have worked actively locally; the IDNA protocol authors; the policy makers; application developers (IDNs is functioning in all new versions of the main browsers as an example) – and so forth.
The results and milestones reached today are huge, outstanding, and so very well deserved. This is the step we have all been waiting for, for so long, to make sure all users are provided equal access to the Internet.
Congratulations especially to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates! I hope you have had a great day and will be celebrating this.”