In 2010, the Qatar ccTLD registry changed operator to the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology. The previous operator of the registry had run .qa as a closed registry, with restricted registration policies. The new registry changed this by introducing a new, first-come, first-served policy, with no limit on the number of domains registered by a single entity.
The IDN ending for Qatar, قطر ,was launched at the same time as the relaunch of the .qa (ASCII) registry in 2010. The Qatar registry supported the launch of the IDN ccTLD with an aggressive marketing campaign. A three-month sunrise period was followed by a landrush.
At December 2013, there were 357 domains registered under قطر ,a growth rate of 15% since December 2012. In relative terms this is a healthy annual growth rate, but in absolute numbers these are a small number of IDNs considering that the registry promotes them alongside the ASCII TLD.
In communication with the registry we found that they felt that they needed to break “the most common mindset of Registrants that fail to look beyond the traditional domain extensions.” They felt that this was due to “market perception” of the IDNs and that would change with increased awareness.
The registry also reports that homograph bundling is allowed. In fact, variants of the registered .qa IDN domains are first reserved upon request of the registrant. Up to five different variant domains can be registered for free.
Over the last three years, the Qatar registry has been building up its registrar base. It now has 15 registrars. The majority are international registrars, with only 3 based in the region. 12 of the registrars offer IDN registrations under قطر.
The Qatar registry has also been active in research and development, and in advocacy for the IDN. It has developed and launched a mobile app for registering both .qa and قطر domains.
Previously Published in World Report on Internationalised Domain Names, 2014