Etisalat has become one of the first companies in the world to pass the initial stages of a procedure to get its own top-level domain (TLD) as part of a revolutionary shake-up in way people search the Web. 
TLDs are the letters after the final dot of a domain name. The approval could pave the way for Etisalat to use “etisalat” in Arabic letters as its domain extension.
“As one of the most innovative companies in the Middle East, it makes sense for Etisalat to progress toward getting a TLD before virtually anyone else,” says Ahmed Bin Ali, group senior VP: corporate communications at Etisalat Group. “Being a pioneer of the telecoms industry has been essential to our success and we plan to continue to be a leader in building an online brand.”
In the past, TLDs have been restricted to generic strings, such as “com” and “net”, and country codes, such as “ae” for the UAE and “uk” for the United Kingdom. Changes to the rules have enabled businesses, governments and communities to apply for new domain names, using letters from languages including Arabic, Korean and Chinese.
“These changes are a natural step in the Internet’s evolution and they will promote the diversity of language and culture and give billions of people a more convenient way to access the Web in their native tongues,” says Bin Ali. “Giving more Arabic speakers access to our Web sites will help us build relations with communities in some of our operating countries.”
Since earlier this month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global regulator of Web addresses, has released the initial evaluations of around 60 applicants. Etisalat passed its first application for the top-level domain “etisalat” in Arabic letters on Friday.
The UAE telecoms operator also applied for the TLD “etisalat” in English. The initial evaluation of this application will be released later this year.
Etisalat can expect to see more companies and government organisations all over the world follow its lead to secure dedicated TLD as they become the mark of entities that are serious about their futures.
The evaluation process includes a rigorous due diligence review of the applicant’s technology, financial resources, management and directors, and its business plans for the top-level domain.
“This new programme is the result of many years of policy development and implementation work aimed at increasing diversity, competition and innovation to the domain name system, and applicants such as Etisalat have spent countless hours to prepare,” says Fadi Chehade, ICANN’s president.
“The release of the first initial evaluations is an important moment in our programme and marks a milestone in the evolution of the Internet.”
Around 2 000 organisations have applied for top-level domains. ICANN has prioritised applications and announced the results of around 30 initial evaluations each week for the past two weeks. The company will continue to release another 30 results each Friday until June, when it will expand this figure to 100.