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