Middle East Engagement Strategy

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The Middle East Engagement Strategy was developed in 2013 by the Middle East Strategy Working Group (ME-SWG).[1][2]

The goals of ICANN and its formulation of the ME-SWG were to achieve the following in the MEAC region:[2]


With the Middle East Strategy, ICANN hopes to achieve the following in the Middle East & Adjoining Countries (MEAC) region:[2]

  • Foster two-way engagement between ICANN and the Internet community
  • Build up the local domain name industry
  • Promote multi-stakeholder Internet governance mechanisms

Strategic Plan

After formulating the Middle East Strategy Working Group (ME-WSG), a more robust strategic plan was formulated, with three main focus areas:[2]

DNS Security and Stability
There is a general lack of interest in DNS operational matters in the region, as the majority of ccTLD operators in the region lack resources to build infrastructure. Creating a pool of trainers in the region for capacity-building and fostering regional and global collaborations is necessary. Such challenges are not merely technical but are also difficult in terms of policy and legality, requiring collaboration among key players in the region, such as governments and law enforcement agencies.[2] The MEAC DNS Study further details the specifics of such difficulties.[3]

Domain Name Industry
Middle East investments in the domain name region are negligible, lacking in both the registry and registrar levels. Some ccTLD registries in the region have revamped their businesses and policy processes in the recent past, but many still struggle with regulations, pricing, marketing, and policies. Online businesses which offer localized services and content in the region are limited, and many are hosted outside of the region.[2] Nonetheless, the MEAC DNS Study notes clearly that internet users in the area prefer to have domain services hosted locally and in their local languages.[3]

Internet Governance Ecosystem
ICANN is built around a multi-stakeholder governance model in which community-developed policies come through bottom-up, consensus-based processes. In many parts of the MEAC region, there is no well-defined process for non-government stakeholders to engage and take part in Internet governance-related processes, which hurts engagement at national and regional levels. ICANN's engagement in the region is limited, and as such, local stakeholders lack awareness of their roles, and it is difficult for ICANN to build sustainable relationships with them.[2]

The following matrix summarizes objectives, recommendations, actions, and metrics in each area of focus.[2]

DNS Security and Stability Domain Name Industry Internet Governance Ecosystem
  • Build awareness and understanding of stakeholders for the importance of DNS security and stability
  • Strengthen technical know-how and capacity of stakeholders
  • Develop Internet infrastructure to strengthen DNS security and stability
  • Cooperate with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for keeping the DNS secure and stable
  • Raise awareness among relevant stakeholders of the domain name industry
  • Foster collaboration among TLD operators on exchanging best practices
  • Stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in Internet related industries
  • Promote multistakeholder Internet governance mechanisms
  • Foster healthier representation from the region in ICANN constituencies
  • Promote engagement from the Internet community in the region
  • Awareness activities on policy issues for policy makers and LEAs
  • Awareness activities on operational issues for registries, registrars, and service providers
  • Develop and strengthen DNS infrastructure in the region
  • Technical assistance to LEAs and CERTs in understanding DNS and ICANN policies
  • Collaborate to develop the requisite IDN infrastructure
  • Create awareness campaigns on the potential of the domain name industry
  • Create more awareness pertaining to future rounds of new gTLDs
  • Facilitate best practice sharing among ccTLDs
  • Create awareness of entrepreneurs and encourage them to engage in domain name related business
  • Develop regional expertise and know-how in different aspects of the domain name ecosystem
  • Strengthen ICANN representation in the region
  • Stimulate engagement in global and regional Internet related fora
  • Promote and support national and regional multi-stakeholder initiatives
  • Improve ICANN outreach and raise awareness of ICANN
  • Conduct training on challenges associated with DNS security and stability
  • Conduct training on use of conventions and best practices to combat cybercrime, and DNS emergency response
  • Identify and train on tools for assessing and reporting on the health of the DNS
  • Identify and train on use of software, tools, and processes to plan and manage DNS
  • Plan and conduct contingency exercises
  • Train on relevant technologies, including DNSSEC, RPKI, and IPv6
  • Adopt "train the trainer" model
  • Increase number of root server instances
  • Promote secondary DNS hosting
  • Develop an IDN Label Generation Ruleset (LGR)
  • Participate in efforts related to registration data definition and validation to support Arabic script community
  • Engage with technical community to address challenges related to use of IDN variants
  • Partner with other stakeholders to conduct roadshows, workshops, and seminars on:
    • Registry / Registrars model
    • Dispute resolution policies and WHOIS
    • New gTLD program
    • Best practices of ccTLD operations, ASCII and IDNs
    • Impact of domain name industry and promotion of online services
  • Carry out a baseline survey and economic study on domain name industry
  • Partner with governments and SME incubators and explore possibility of financing
  • Guidance and support to accredited registrars from the region
  • Address challenges facing potential registrars with regard to financial, legal and technical requirements
  • Increase ICANN fellowship opportunities to the region
  • Establish ICANN ambassador program
  • Liaise with and support Internet governance mechanism (e.g. Arab IGF)
  • Organize outreach programs to stimulate participation in ICANN and Internet Governance fora
  • Organize capacity building programs to simulate models for a multi-stakeholder policy development process
  • Support the creation of remote hubs for ICANN meetings
  • Train the trainers and help develop material that can be integrated in academic curricula
  • Number of awareness and training activities addressing DNS security and stability for policymakers and LEAs
  • Number of awareness and training activities addressing DNS security and stability for technical community
  • Number of trainers trained on DNS security and stability aspects
  • Number of trainings conducted by previous trainees
  • Number of secondary ccTLD hosting instances in the region
  • Increased number of root server instances in the region
  • Arabic script LGR for the root
  • Report on Arabic script requirements/conventions for registration data
  • Training and dissemination material related to security and stability challenges and recommendations in using Arabic script IDNs and publishing registration data
  • Increase in number of ASCII ccTLD registrations
  • Increase in number of IDN ccTLD registrations
  • Increase in number of Arabic script IDN ccTLDs
  • Increase in number of registrations under new gTLDs from the region
  • Increase in number of ccTLD registrars
  • Increase in number of ICANN accredited registrars from the region
  • Number of successful new gTLD applications from the region
  • Number of registrants per capita, compared to other regions
  • Number of domain names per online business (how many of those domains registered under ccTLDs and how many under gTLDs)
  • Increase in ICANN outreach to the region
  • The number and nature of stakeholder representation of participants in events in the region
  • The number and nature of stakeholder representation of speakers in events in the region
  • The number and nature of stakeholder representation of instructors in orientation/capacity building workshops in the region
  • The number of attendees and frequency of attendance at ICANN meetings from the region
  • The number of individuals from the region being granted fellows to attend ICANN meetings
  • The number of new regional members joining ICANN SOs/ACs
  • The number of individuals nominated to and selected by NomCom, or elected through their constituencies to become members of ICANN Board and SO/AC Councils.
  • More effective participation from the region in working groups or other activities
  • Number of comments received from the region through ICANN public comments process
  • Increase in ICANN presence in the region in terms of staff, ambassadors and/or offices
  • Increase in participation from the region in other relevant fora

Progress Reviews

Every July concludes with a progress review of the previous year and presents a engagement strategy for the following year, based off the previous year's findings and focuses.

Third Year Implementation Plan (2016)

Set out on July 2015, for July 2015 through June 2016:[4]

  • Adopt "train the trainer" model to sustain future capacity building, through organizations like the DNS Entrepreneurship Center (DNS-EC), which will run training programs will primarily be under the two tracks of: a) DNS operations and security; and b) DNS business development and registry best practices.
  • Identify challenges in using IDNs and variants (especially in the context of tools and applications to address the security and stability of the DNS), develop requirements to address these challenges, and engage with technical community for the solutions, with the help of TF-AIDN and groups within ICANN and the global relevant stakeholders and groups.
  • Partner with regional stakeholders and assist with funding to conduct road shows, seminars, and training programs related to the domain name industry, including the organisation of the third Middle East DNS Forum, the second Turkey DNS Forum, and other non-DNS-related events.
  • Carry out a baseline survey and economic study identifying the potential of ASCII domain name and IDN industry for the region, while working with a contracted consultant to finalize the MEAC DNS Study.
  • Work on helping new registrars through the challenges of passing though the ICANN Accreditation process, to faciliate and speed up new accreditations in the region, by coordinating with the team involved with ICANN's "Underserved Regions" project.
  • Develop and sponsor capacity-building programs to simulate models for multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, consensus-driven policy development -- including the organization of the 3rd Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG), participating in other capacity-building programs like MENOG and IGMENA, and launching a school on Internet governance in Pakistan, with the help of NUST, the National University of Science and Technology.
  • Support the creation of remote hubs in the region for attending ICANN meetings, which is a functionality already supported by ICANN.
  • Enhance ICANN visibility in local and regional media by ensuring media coverage for regional ICANN events, organizing roundtables with media outlets, developing stories for local and regional press, and pushing news about major ICANN milestones.
  • Plan and conduct contingency and coordination exercises to prepare for threats to DNS and prepare for threats to DNS and prepare CERTs, by conducting workshops and educating LEAs and information security professionals.

Second Year Implementation Plan Review (2015)

Key milestones:[1]

  • The DNS Entrepreneurship Center (DNS-EC) was off to a great start with two business track training programs and one train-the-trainer program on DNS Operations and DNSSEC.[5]
  • The MEAC DNS Study was initiated, and its findings were shared at ICANN 54 meeting in Dublin.
  • The Task Force on Arabic Script IDNs (TF-AIDN) concluded their work on LGRs at the root-level, MSR at the root-level, and Arabic Script Variants. Their next stop is LGR at the Second Level as well as work on Universal Acceptance.
  • The organization of the second edition of the Middle East DNS Forum (ME DNS Forum 2015) in Jordan, as well as the second edition of the Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on IG (MEAC-SIG 2015) in Tunisia.
  • Dedicated outreach activities in countries such as Yemen, Sudan, Iran, Jordan, and Pakistan by holding meetings with all stakeholder groups
  • Bi-Monthly Webinars, quad-annual newsletters, more media coverage, targeting new events, etc.

First Year Implementation Plan Review (2014)

Key milestones:[6]

  • The Task Force on Arabic Script IDNs (TF-AIDN) was inaugurated during the 2nd Arab IGF in Algiers in early October 2013, and tackld issues related to Arabic Script IDNs in a bottom-up, consensus-driven, multi-stakeholder model. Their deliverables included two face-to-face meetings.
  • Inaugural Middle East DNS Forum was held in Dubai in early February 2014, creating a platform for regional stakeholders to engage in and strengthen the region's DNS industry, and a program committee was formed to develop program and agenda for future DNS Forums.
  • The Middle East and Adjoining Countries School on Internet Governance (MEAC-SIG) took place in Kuwait, and 25 students from 9 countries attended 5-days of extensive education on issues related to Internet Governance.
  • ICANN community was updated on the implementation plan at ICANN 50 in London.
  • Two strategic agreements were signed at ICANN 50 in London: the regional DNS Entrepreneurship Center (DNS-EC) and the MoU with the Qatari Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Middle East Strategy: Two Years Later, ICANN.org. Published 2015 July 7. Retrieved 2015 November 17.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 ICANN Engagement Strategy in the Middle East, ICANN.org. Published 2013 May 10. Retrieved 2015 November 17.
  3. 3.0 3.1 MEAC DNS Study, ICANN.org. Published 2015 October 13. Retrieved 2015 November 17.
  4. ICANN Engagement Strategy in the Middle East, Year-3 Implementation Plan, ICANN.org. Published 2015 June 4. Retrieved 2015 November 17.
  5. The DNS Entrepreneurial Center for the Middle East and Africa Takes Off to a Great Start, ICANN.org. Published 2015 April 22. Retrieved 2015 November 17.
  6. Middle East Strategy - One Year Later, ICANN.org. Published 2014 July 7. Retrieved November 17.