Dr. Abdulaziz H. Al-Zoman
SaudiNIC, ISU, KACST
+ 966 1 481 3208
+ 966 1 481 3950
Member States of the ITU, by ITU-T Sector Members and Associates, and their respective staff and collaborators in their ITU related
work. It shall not be made available to, and used by, any other persons or entities without the prior written consent of the ITU-T.
INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION
STUDY PERIOD 2001-2004
Workshop on Member States' experiences with ccTLD
Saudi Network Information Center, Internet Services Unit, KACST, KSA
SaudiNIC Experiences in Managing the Saudi ccTLD (.sa)
King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) is an independent scientific
organization administratively belonging to the Prime Minister. It was established in 1979. Since
then, it has striven to realize its objectives of transferring technology, maximizing its benefits and
utilizing it to serve researchers and the society in general. KACST played a pioneering role in
establishing the Gulf academic network, GULFNET, and linking it to the international BITNET at
the end of 1980's. Moreover, KACST has played a fundamental and positive role also in the
introduction of the Internet to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the end of 1998 based on a Royal
decree in which an Internet Services Unit (ISU) was established.
In the same direction, KACST has managed the domain name registration under the country code
(ccTLD) of Saudi Arabia (.SA) since 1995. After establishing ISU in 1998, the task of domain
name registration has been handled by the Saudi Network Information Center (SaudiNIC) of ISU.
Therefore, SaudiNIC is the entity that is responsible for the administration of the domain name
space for the country code (ccTLD) of Saudi Arabia (.SA). This includes the operation of the DNS
root servers for .SA domains as well as the registration and maintenance of all third-level .SA
domain names. Additionally, SaudiNIC is a Local Internet Registry (LIR) authorized by RIPE-
NCC, which is responsible for allocating blocks of IP addresses to universities and local ISPs in
The mission of SaudiNIC is to provide an equitable, just and competent technical and
administrative management of domain name registrations and IP address allocations for Internet
community in Saudi Arabia.
Setting up policies regulating domain name registrations and IP address allocations.
Domain name registrations
ccTLD Doc 21
Provide databases for the registered domain names
IP address allocations
Coordinating with other GCC, Arab, and International ccTLDs.
Participating in international events supervised by ICANN, RIPE, ISOC, ITU, WIPO, and
any other activities that are related to domain names and IP numbers.
ORGANIZATION STRUCTURE AND STAFFING
SaudiNIC started with two persons and now it has 4 people: manager, database administrator,
Registrar (clerk), and webmaster. The technical support and operation of the DNS servers are
provided by the Network Operation Center of ISU. Here are the main tasks of SaudiNIC:
The responsibility of SaudiNIC manager.
Done regularly once every 1-2 years.
Consultation with local community such as universities and service providers as well as
Reviewed by the legal department of KACST
Approved by the VP of KACST
Registration procedure are defined and drafted by SaudiNIC staff and approved by the
Two levels of helpdesk support are provided. First level covers most of all support provided
Day-to-day registration activities (add new, modify, and delete domain names).
Workshop to ISPs regarding domain name registration policies and registration procedures.
Administering and monitoring the SaudiNIC database server
Developing and maintaining in-house software applications for automating domain name
Operating and monitoring the DNS servers
Securing the DNS and database server.
Providing 24x7 connectivity to the DNS and database server.
Coordinating with our secondary DNS servers around the world.
Updating the information records of .sa with ICANN/IANA
These tasks are provided by ISU-NOC.
Create and maintain up to date web site in dual language (Arabic and English)
Create web applications
SaudiNIC has been funded by KACST since is establishment. Operation and staffing cost are part
of KACST budget. Domain name registrations are provided free of charge for the purpose of
encouraging the local community to use and utilize the Internet for e-businesses and other
Since the establishment of the SaudiNIC, registration regulations have gone through a number of
major revisions. The current version of the "Domain Name Registration Regulation In Saudi Arabia
Version 1.3" was written on the 17
of November, 2001. Regulation developments were done
such as the universities, Internet service providers, private sectors, Ministry of Commerce, and
individuals. Also, they get reviewed by the legal department of KACST. They become in effect
after they have been approved by the senior management of KACST, i.e. the vice precedent for
Domain Name Registration Regulation in Saudi Arabia is the guideline for the registration
procedure followed by SaudiNIC staff. All registrations without exceptions are done according to
this regulation on first come, first served basis. The regulation is applied equally over all different
type of entities (governmental, educational, private, non for profit, and individuals).
Major Points in the Regulation
SaudiNIC registers domain names on first come, first served basis.
SaudiNIC has neither the resources nor the legal obligation to screen requested domain
names to determine if the use of a domain name by an Applicant may infringe upon the
right(s) of a third party. Therefore, Applicant bears the responsibility of obtaining legal
permission to use the domain name which means that the use or registration of the domain
name by him does not interfere with or infringe upon the right of any third party in any
jurisdiction with respect to trademark, trade name, company name or any other intellectual
property right. And it is the Applicant’s responsibility to secure a trade name or such to
protect his right to the chosen name
Applicant agrees that the domain name will be only used by the Applicant and it is not
giving it away for free. Doing so will result in all domains owned by the violating body to
be revoked immediately.
SaudiNIC has dedicated the sub-domain "pub.sa" for personal names provided that if the
be followed by at lest 2 digits, e.g., ahmad72.pub.sa, alfulani01.pub.sa. Combining names
together is allowed without using digits, e.g., ahmadalfulani.pub.sa
Domain names under (.sa) are provided to applicant who are either physically in Saudi
in Saudi Arabia.
Currently there is no fee for a domain name registration under ".sa". s
Currently SaudiNIC is studying the UDRP and the possibility of adapting it locally. One problem
that are facing SaudiNIC is that most of the legal experts (law offices, judges, lawyers, …) lack the
experience and the knowledge that are related to IT legal issues particularly with respect to domain
Currently, a separate track in the new ongoing national IT planning is dedicated for IT related
regulations. Some of their recommendation will be in the area of increasing awareness in this field.
Thus, currently, any disputes between parties over the rights to use a particular domain name are to
be settled between the contending parties using normal legal methods. SaudiNIC exempts itself
from all responsibility for the verification of rights to a name. SaudiNIC cannot act as arbiter of
disputes arising out of this kind of conflict.
Through its operation period, there were only two dispute cases. One was handled by SaudiNIC and
it was resolved in 2 months. While the other it took about 2-2.5 years. It settled through the legal
system including also lawsuit against SaudiNIC (from the loosing party).
A domain name is a name that represents an entity on the Internet. It is, usually, similar to the entity
name or derived from it. It is a distinctive and simple way to identify the entity's site on the Internet.
It is used by others to visit the site or to send electronic mail. It is often that the entity will choose a
domain name that is short using Latin letters and register it with the organization supervising
domain name registration, such as SaudiNIC.
Any entity that wants to register a domain name under .SA has to submit a request to SaudiNIC. A
domain name has the following format: ..sa , where, is the name that
is chosen to represent the entity, represents the category in which the entity is classified.
The Saudi ccTLD (.SA) domain hierarchy is based on general category of organizations. The
following are their definitions:
Dedicated only for entities that provide commercial services with valid Commercial
Registrations from Ministry of Commerce (MOC) or any equivalent documents. Also,
registered trade names and marks with MOC can be registered as domain names under
edu.sa: Dedicated only for educational and training institutions, e.g., universities, training
institutes, etc., with valid licenses from official government offices.
schools with valid licenses from Ministry of Education or from General Presidency for
med.sa: Dedicated only for entities that provides health services such as hospitals, medical
clinics, pharmacies, etc., with valid licenses from Ministry of Health.
portal sites, etc.
definitions, including personal names.
Domain name applications are kept in a pending state until required documents and name servers
correct information are received from Applicant within three weeks from the reception date. If no
such documents or information are submitted within this period, SaudiNIC will send email message
to request the missing information or documents. If nothing is received within a week, SaudiNIC
will reject the request.
SaudiNIC insists that the applicant should have arranged at least two operational DNS servers for
the domain name in question. All need permanent IP connectivity to the Internet. Each DNS server
must be capable of receiving queries for the domain name and responding thereto.
SaudiNIC Internal Registration Steps:
Here are the internal steps that are followed by SaudiNIC staff to complete domain name
registrations, see Figure (1) which depicts these steps in pictorial way.
Receiving and Checking the Request:
domain name availability
completeness of required documents
validity of the request
Contacting ISP/customer for any missing information or problems
A warning message will be sent after 3 weeks if no response is received
Then, the request will be rejected if nothing is received within a week
Accessible through the Internet
Hosting the new domain name
Contacting ISP/Customer for any problems
SaudiNIC puts all of its information into its web site (www.saudinic.net.sa) since 1997 in both
languages Arabic and English. It consists of:
Registration procedure and online forms
Documentations, how-to, and FAQs
Description of all SaudiNIC error and worming registration messages
Total number of registered domain names per year by the end of 2002:
Total number of registered domain names per sub-domain by the end of 2002:
Since the Internet was originally evolved in the United Sates, it supported only 7-bit ASCII code
(English characters), and the Domain name System (DNS) supports alphabets, numbers and hyphen
of the ASCII code. The activity of supporting multilingual characters in domain names is becoming
very important now along other Internet internationalization to make the Internet globally
accessible and become ubiquitous. Therefore, using the Arabic language to express Internet domain
names is becoming also important and a number of solutions and implementations have been
introduced in the market but based on non-open standards. Also, there is some non-for-profit
international organizations that are trying to promote the multilingual issues and standards on the
Internet, such as MINC (Multilingual Internet Names Consortium) and AINC (Arabic Internet
AINC's Arabic Linguistic Committee (ALC)
One of the strategic tasks of AINC is to setup some linguistic guidelines to be used by technology
providers. Therefore, an Arabic Linguistic Committee was established during the formation of
AINC in April 2000 to carry this task. The main goals of the committee are (a) to define the
accepted Arabic character set to be used for writing domain names in Arabic, and (b) to define the
top-level domains of the Arabic domain name tree structure (i.e., Arabic gTLDs, and Arabic
ccTLDs). Thee group are using email as the main communications medium to exchange ideas and
suggestions. The mailing list of the group is: AINC-ALC@ISU.NET.SA. Here is their
recommendation regarding some linguistic issues:
Tashkeel should not be allowed. However, if there is a need
name then it should be stripped off by nameprep
Kasheeda should be disallowed
Folding should not be allowed
If it is technically possible, it is preferred to support both
Latin set is sufficient
It is recommended that multiple words are separated by the
It is recommended that Arabic domain names be pure
It is recommended that Arabic domain names should follow
It is recommended to use UNICODE 3.1. The following
Unicode characters are accepted in Arabic domain names:
U0621(hamza) until U063A (gheen)
U0641 (feh) until U064A (yeh)
Arabic numbers: 0
9 (U0660 until U0669)
Other than these characters are not allowed
SaudiNIC keeps updating its regulations and procedures for the benefits of the local community.
This includes some work that SaudiNIC is planning to achieve, such as:
Increasing public awareness.
Open the registration process to be performed by other entities (e.g., private sector) and
making SaudiNIC concentrates on the supervision, monitoring, and setting regulations.
Adapting fully automated registration system in dual languages (Arabic, English).
Build an index directory of all the registered domain names in dual languages (Arabic,
For more information visit the following links:
Domain names in Arabic language:
Domain Name Registration Regulation In Saudi Arabia:
SaudiNIC web site:
ISU web site:
KACST web site: