PREVIOUSLY: AMEinfo examined the new TLD in March
ICANN, the global regulator of web addresses, has inked the deal after receiving almost 1,900 applications from around the world. Shabaka, which translates to 'web', is the first TLD to be written in a non-Roman script – شبكة.
The domain is set to go live 'in the coming months', according to an official statement and is part of a new programme being rolled out by ICANN to expand the web address system.
"Today's contract signing is a monumental occasion. As the first new top-level domain, Shabaka., is set to become the centre of all things Arabic on the Internet," said Yasmin Omer, general manager of dotShabaka Registry – previously Internet Domain Registry (IDR).
"It is an incredible achievement not only for us but also for the entire Arabic-speaking world. It will pioneer a new way for people to use the Internet that begins with the Arabic language."
"Shabaka, will have a global audience, with over 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, use Arabic as an official language - a region that comprises over 380 million people. Yasmin said that Arabic is also the fastest growing language online - with a growth of more than 2,500 per cent in the 10 years till 2011," added Omer.
"In spite of the boom in Arabic content online, users are still burdened with the need to use English on the Internet. Many websites and Internet applications force visitors to only use English. Through Shabaka., we are campaigning for a truly Arabic Internet experience from start to finish," Yasmin added.
Joining dotShabaka Registry in the TLD venture is GoDaddy, the world's largest domain name and Web hosting provider.
"The Shabaka domain name extension marks a meaningful change for the Arabic Internet, with tremendous opportunities for new businesses to grow and flourish ... in the Arabic language. We are ready to help make the new names available with an experience that includes easy-to-use search tools, and the reliable service that the world has come to expect from us," said GoDaddy's CEO, Blake Irving.
Today's announcement follows the release of the initial evaluation results in March, when ICANN announced the official approval of the Shabaka. application. With the signing of this contract, there are only a few final testing requirements that need to be completed before Shabaka will be delegated and accessible on the Internet.
dotShabaka Registry has contracted ARI Registry Services for the provision of software and infrastructure systems to support Shabaka., owing to their vast experience in the domain name registry technology in supporting the .ae, .qa and .om domain name spaces.