The first of the non-Latin domain names is now online. Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology's official website (http://www.mcit.gov.eg) is also accessible via its domain name in Arabic (http://موقع.وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر).
It seems that major browsers are unable to handle Arabic letters and the URL displayed is http://xn--4gbrim.xn----ymcbaaajlc6dj7bxne2c.xn--wgbh1c/ar/default.aspx
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) had recently approved of domain names in Arabic for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt's country code top-level domain (ccTLD) in Arabic is "مصر." (.masr) in additional to the existing ".eg".
Egypt\'s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology\'s official website is also accessible through its URL in Arabic.
Major internet applications are also yet to come to terms the new non-Latin URLs. Google Translate treats the domain name "http://موقع.وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر" as a piece of text, rather than an URL and spews out a literal translation "http:// site. Ministry - Communications. Egypt"
The popular URL shortening service bit.ly goes into error mode and displays the message "Server Error. Sorry, bit.ly encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request."
Until now, websites had to end their addresses with ".com" or another string using Latin characters. That meant businesses and government agencies still had to use Latin characters on billboards and advertisements, even if they were targeting populations with no familiarity with English or other languages that use the Latin script.
Non-Latin characters were sometimes permitted for the portions of the Internet address before the suffix. But Arabic websites generally haven't had that option because Arabic characters are written right to left, conflicting with Latin suffixes written left to right.
It is expected that by 2011 domain names in as many as seven Indian languages - Hindi, Bangla, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and Gujarati - would also be available.
(With inputs from agencies)