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3.5 Million people in the Arab world are logging onto the Internet
Riyadh, 29th March 2001

   More than 3.5 million people in the Arab world are logging onto the Internet, according to a survey published yesterday.

Topping the list for the highest number of users was the United Arab Emirates, the unofficial e-capital of the Middle East, with 660,000, representing 24.4 percent of the population.

The UAE was followed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt with 570,000 and 560,000 users, making up 2.6 and 0.8 percent of their respective populations.

The best Internet penetration rate, after the UAE, was in Bahrain, with 16.7 percent of the population surfing the Web, followed by Qatar with 10.3 percent and Kuwait with 8.2 percent.

Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Iraq had a mere 106,500 Internet users between them, the survey by the Arabic-English web portal said.

More than 1.5 million new users have joined the Arab Internet community over the last year, it said, predicting that up to 12 million of the estimated 240 million people in the Arab world will be logging on by the end of 2002.

Meanwhile, senior government officials and business leaders from Saudi Arabia and many Arab countries will meet in the Jordanian capital Amman on Saturday to discuss the Arabization of domain names to facilitate easy access to websites. The Kingdom will be represented at the two-day Amman meeting by the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology.

Internet users at present have to enter the domain names using English or Latin characters. Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Zoman, head of Saudi Network Information Center at KACST, has said the Arabic Internet Names Consortium (AINC) has been set up with support from the Gulf states to remove the linguistic barrier and facilitate Internet access by Arabic speakers. The Amman meeting will officially announce the creation of AINC.

A statement released by Talal Abu Ghazaleh International (TAGI), the organizers of the meeting, said Arabic would become one of the languages that could be used for registering domain names later this year.

“We expect that it will be possible to have an Arabized program later this year, which will allow the computer to translate the Arabic character,” it said.

The statement said the need for Arabization of domain names was increasing with the growing number of Internet users in the Arab countries.

KACST has been receiving at least 110 applications every month for domain name registration.

Source: ArabNews®

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29 March 2001 05:28:46 PM

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