Baher Esmat


Bio: Baher Esmat, Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, ICANN, Turkey

Baher Esmat is ICANN Regional Vice President for stakeholder engagement in the Middle East and Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Regional office in Istanbul. In his role, Esmat oversees ICANN’s engagement in the MEA region and facilitates collaboration with stakeholders to fulfill ICANN’s strategic objectives at the regional level.

Esmat has been involved in Internet technical and governance issues for over two decades. Prior to ICANN, he spent over three years with the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), where he served as Telecom Planning Manager and spearheaded various projects aiming at expanding Internet access at the national level. Before MCIT, Esmat worked for Newbridge Networks as a Systems Consultant and was part of the sales support team providing technical consultation and developing solutions for clients across the Middle East. Esmat began his career as a Systems Engineer at Egypt’s Cabinet Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) where he was part of the team that helped bring the Internet to Egypt.  

Esmat is a founding member of Egypt Internet Society Chapter. He had also served on several Internet governance related groups including the UN Working Group on Internet Governance, WGIG (2004-2005), the CSTD Working Group on IGF Improvements (2011-2012), and the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Committee, MAG (2011-2015). 

Esmat holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Cairo University, and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science from the American University in Cairo.

Abstract: "Providing Meaningful Access to an Evolving Multilingual Internet"

The Internet Domain Name System (DNS) has expanded with more than 1,200 active generic top-level domains (gTLDs), beyond .com, .org, etc.,  in many different scripts and of varying length (e.g., .дети, .london, .engineering). There are also more than 60 IDN country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) representing global communities online in native languages and scripts (e.g., .ไทย, .中国, مصر.). This enables a broad variety of domain names and email addresses, providing choice and more meaningful access to the billions of internet users globally based on their interest, profession, culture and language.  For a truly multilingual and digitally inclusive Internet, organizations around the world, including academic and research institutions, need to ensure that their software systems and services are updated to work with the evolving domain name space. For this purpose, technology developers and system administrators have a key role in developing and maintaining software and online services which provide Universal Acceptance (UA) of all valid domain names and email addresses. This presentation provides an overview of what Universal Acceptance (UA) means, and why it is important for ensuring meaningful access to the Internet, efforts related to UA and how the research and education community can contribute to these efforts.