By Andy Sambidge
New .qa web addresses will be available to the public by August 2011 - ictQatar
Qatar-specific internet domain names will be made available to the public in the Gulf state by August, it has been announced.
Officials from the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQatar) have launched the Qatar Domains Registry (QDR).
It has made some Qatar-specific domain names in Arabic and Latin-scripts available immediately, with general domains available to the public by August of this year, ictQatar said in a statement.
Saleh Al-Kuwari, chief technical manager at ictQatar, said: "The launch of the Qatar Domains Registry is a major milestone as we work to build a more digitally inclusive society.
"The Arab world represents a region with enormous potential for growth both in terms of usage and the creation of new digital content, especially Arabic content," he added.
"Qatar-specific domains are a valuable asset for businesses and individuals looking to establish their online identity. Using .qa. shows you are uniquely Qatar."
Rod Beckstrom, the president and CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the agency responsible for Internet domain names, was in Qatar for the launch.
He said: "In pursuing the IDN on behalf of its people, Qatar has recognized that the Internet is the way of the future."
Currently, a number of websites are being used as pilots for the new domain names, including ictQatar and Hukoomi.
Qatar received an official delegation for its Arabic domains in December 2010, and has been working to meet all of ICANN's technical requirements for the rollout and administration of the domain names since.