By: Riyadh Abdul Aziz
Omani domain names provide nationals and local businesses with a great opportunity to create unique and memorable addresses for their websites.
Last year in July, the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) amended its domain name regulations to finally allow nationals to register Omani domain names. Prior to this amendment, Omani nationals were able to acquire domain names only by using foreign registrars to get generic domain names such as .com, .net, or .org domain names.
After the amendment of the regulations, Omani nationals now have the same right as Omani companies to register Omani .om domain names.
The problem with generic top-level domain names such as .com, .net, and .org is that all the short and common words have already been registered by people from other countries. To register a new domain name, you either have to select a long name or come up with a new spelling for the word.
Relying on international registrars instead of local ones also puts Omanis at risk as they might not be able get in touch easily with these registrars if something goes wrong. Similarly, you can’t sue or complain about them in Oman if they do not fulfill their obligations.
Now that Omani nationals are allowed to register Omani domain names, Omanis have the option to pick extremely short domain names which are easier to remember and type. For example, just a couple of weeks ago I registered ‘riyadh.om’ while ‘riyadh.com’ was registered by someone else many many years ago. My new Omani domain name is also one letter shorter than the .com version and it clearly indicates that my website is an Omani website.
Registering with a local registrar also means that if I have any trouble with my domain name, I can complain to the local authorities, such as the Public Authority for Consumer Protection, TRA or the Ministry of Commerce and Industry about the problem. That would not be possible for domains I registered using GoDaddy.com which is an American company that has no legal presence in Oman. However, there are still some issues that make Omani domain names unattractive. First of all, Omani domain names are expensive.
Registering a .com domain names on GoDaddy.com costs a maximum of US$10 (about RO3.85), while registered a Omani domain name costs at least RO30 (about US$78).
Three out of the four available registrars also charge an additional set-up fee that can be quite high. For example, if you want to register an Omani domain name using Oman Data Park, you will pay RO30 for the domain name plus RO35 as a set-up fee. This makes the process to register a single Omani domain name cost RO65 in total, i e the price for registering almost 20 .com domain names with GoDaddy.com.
Even though about half a year has passed since TRA updated its regulations, none of the registrars updated their websites to indicate that it is now possible for individuals to register domain names and instead advertise that registration of domain names is only available to businesses and government entities. The only exception to this rule is Ooredoo which has a tiny button that gives the option for “personal” websites.
The websites themselves are also not very user-friendly, require you to upload way too many documents, do not always have online payment, and might not have some basic features such as creating e-mail forwarders without having a hosting package.
With all that being said, Omani domain names still provide new great opportunities for Omani websites that should be utilised by the Omani individuals and businesses. Registrars need to update their websites to inform the public that these domains are also available to individuals and not just businesses.
SOURCE: Muscat Daily