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Old 26th May 2010, 07:41 AM
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Rod Beckstrom in Egypt

Thank you for inviting me to take part in this wonderful celebration on this historic day.
Egypt’s achievement in securing one of the first international domain names is a
milestone in the history of the Internet.
Thanks especially to Minister of Communications and Information Technology Tarek
Mohamed Kamel, whose dedication to bringing an Arabic IDN to Egypt has been a
driving force in this achievement. Minister Kamel has been a great supporter of ICANN.
He was the gracious host of ICANN’s 33rd International Meeting, held here in Cairo in
2008. [We are honored by his presence here today.]
ICANN works toward a common good – a stable and secure global Internet. A truly
global Internet means that anyone can connect to anyone anywhere, and for many
millions, the introduction of IDNs means they can do so in their primary language.
Overall, the numbers are staggering: five of the top ten languages in use on the Internet
today rely on a non-Latin script: Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian and Korean, in
roughly descending order. That represents 647 million users. And another 310 million
fall into the broad category of “other” languages – not in the top ten – and many of them
will also rely on non-Latin scripts.
Arabic is the seventh most common language on the Internet, with an estimated 60
million Arabic language users online. In the last decade Arabic speakers came online
faster than other language group – by an amazing 2300 percent.
Three countries were approved at the same time to use top level domain names in
Arabic script – Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt’s inclusion
indicates the potential of these new extensions to profoundly transform the Internet and
how people use it.
Forty five percent of Egypt’s population is under 18, and many have already embraced
the Internet. Egypt has the largest Internet population in the Arab world, with 18 million
users, and we expect the introduction of the Arabic IDN to increase this number. The
Egyptian government is also facilitating use of the Internet by increasing broadband
access. So far there about one million broadband users here, with prices starting at
about $8 [insert Egyptian pounds] per month.
Egypt has been an Internet leader and a supporter of ICANN’s multi-stakeholder,
bottom up model of policy formation. It has participated since the beginning in the
Governmental Advisory Committee – the voice of governments in ICANN, and a body
whose influence has greatly increased as ICANN has internationalized following the
Affirmation of Commitments concluded last year. Manal Ismail represents Egypt on the
GAC and has been instrumental in the policy development process for the IDN program.
The new IDN will not only open up access to the Internet to more Arabic speakers. It will
foster innovation and creativity, and provide better branding opportunities for local
companies and more educational opportunities. And we were delighted to learn that the
Egyptian government plans to boost Arabic content online by preserving Egypt’s cultural
heritage by digitizing national archives.
As we speak today, people who have never used the Internet are joining this world
movement. We are all becoming connected through this amazing global system.
Millions of them – the next Internet users in Egypt – will now be able to use Arabic script
to do so.
Thank you.
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