Last November I posted about the internet regulator Icann approving the use of different alphabets, ending the dominance of Latin-based alphabets such as English. The new web addresses were expected in 2010, and at the start of May the new domains became available for use!

Previously web addresses could be written partly in different scripts, but the ‘country code’ (e.g. had to be written in a Latin script. The change means that the entire address can be written in, for example, Arabic, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates the first to do so.

Unfortunately, not all computer users will be able to use the new domain names immediately as they may not have the correct fonts installed.

“You may see a mangled string of letters and numbers, and perhaps some percent signs or a couple of “xn--”s mixed into the address bar,” said Mr Davies. “Or it may not work at all.”…

“Computers never come with the complete set of fonts that will allow it to show every possible IDN [internationalised domain names] in the world.

“Often this is fixed by downloading additional language packs for the missing languages, or specifically finding and installing fonts that support the wanted languages.” (Source: BBC News)

The country codes:
Egypt: مصر (Egypt)
Saudi Arabia: السعودية (AlSaudiah)
United Arab Emirates: امارات (Emarat)

Source: Icann