Internet Governance Forum 2009 - IV - Arab World

Internet Governance Forum 2009 - IV - Arab World

Free Culture

I participated as a speaker in the workshop "Open Content and Open Licensing in the Arab World" and I tried to introduce some problems related to Free Culture in Arab World.

The Arab World is not innovative (only 1.1% of the global research is made by Arabs!) and access to knowledge is extremely difficult (less than 20% of the population has access to Internet and more than 30% is illiterate). We can add that almost nobody in our countries is aware of concepts like "open content" and "free culture", a very little promotion is made and there are no national strategies or workplans to wider adoption of these concepts.

Still there are good things we can do: Less restrictions to access copyright-less government's data and information, releasing of publicly-funded cultural works under free licenses and open source curricula and textbooks in schools and universities. Arab artists, writers and bloggers can license their work under Creative Commons, as well researchers and academic staff. And why we do not create Free Culture chapters in our universities?


Creative Commons

Ziad Maraqa and Rami Olwan made a good job with the first Arabic translation of Creative Commons licenses, but that was in Jordan, and now is the other Arab countries turn to get their own licenses.

There is some activity in both Syria and Tunisia (thanks to guys like Bassel Safadi and Rafik Dammak), but we will face new problems and challenges as we have different legislations and dialects through our Arab World. A relevant issue has already been arisen by Rafik, it looks that CC Tunisia is not so happy with the Arabic-Jordanian translation of Creative Commons (المشاع الإبداعي).

Michelle Thorne (Creative Commons International Project Manager) shared with me the fear of potential confusion and more dissimilarities between Arab countries.


Arabic Content

I probably exaggerated when I said that the "next big thing of Internet will be in the Arab World", but I still believe in this, and it looks I am not the only one. Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang said it again and brought the example of Maktoob (although it was reported several times in the verbatim as Mac2!).

The Arabic language is one of the 10 most used languages on the Internet.


Multilingualism in Web Domains

So what has been done for Arabic ccTLDs? Manal Ismail (Director of International Technical Coordination Department of ICANN) presented a list of problems including the use of diacritics (حركات) in Arabic and the different forms of hamzeh (أ - إ - ا).

My point of view is to have different hamzehs as different letters (this is what ICANN is trying to do) and personally I do not think the diacritics should be included in URLs. But it seems more discussions are needed in order to find a solution for this point.

Actually I was more interested to see how we will deal with initial-middle-final forms of letters and word separators. The only suggestion of ICANN for now looks to be dashes (no spaces allowed), this means that the Arabic URL of Jordan Open Source Association will be something like: الجمعية-الأردنية-للمصدر-المفتوح.منظمة or الجمعية-الأردنية-للمصدر-المفتوح.الأردن if we will adopt the Arabic ccTLD for Jordan.