As you are well aware, recent events in Afghanistan have changed the economic landscape, as the Taliban has taken control of the Afghan government after the United States military withdrew their forces. This has caused confusion in the international commerce in and around Afghanistan, and we wanted to take a moment to update you on how this has affected the .AF domain name space. We also want to take this time to update you on other changes (good and bad) to various regional country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) in the Middle East.
Update on Afghanistan & Middle East Domain Registrations & Regulations
Afghanistan (.AF and 3rd-level extensions such as .COM.AF)
We have made this decision based on the uncertainty of the current situation in Afghanistan. The .AF registry has been unresponsive for several weeks and payments to them have not been possible.
We are in contact with the US Office of Foreign Asset Control, and they have advised us that we can continue to promote the use and access of .AF domains for individuals residing in Afghanistan as long as they do not appear on OFAC’s Sanctions List.
We are able to continue renewing existing domain names for the time being. However, this can change at any moment. If you are currently using a .AF domain name as your primary domain name for your business you should proceed with caution. We advise you to prepare another domain as a backup plan and are here to help you with that process.
We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Bahrain (.BH and 3rd-level extensions such as .COM.BH)
The .BH TLD will be liberalizing and re-launching on November 1, 2021. This means that the .BH extension will become unrestricted and open to the public for registration to Individuals and Organizations outside of Bahrain.
.COM.BH will be open for registration to Businesses operating outside of Bahrain and will no longer require a local presence.
The relaunch will include a sunrise period. More details will be provided in the coming weeks.
The current estimated time to register a domain name is 3-4 months. Additionally, renewals of domain names are also taking around the same amount of time. If you are intending to renew your .IQ domain names, we ask that you renew them as early as possible.
Additionally, the registry has no specific policies around premium domain names. The registry does not have set prices on domain names so it’s very common that a domain name will be deemed premium after an order has been placed. If this applies to any of your domain names, we will let you know.
Israel (.CO.IL, .NET.IL and .ORG.IL)
Starting December 14, 2021, the registrant email address will be validated by the registry before the registration request is submitted. The Israeli Internet Association will start requiring Registrants to submit a company registration/ VAT number to register Israeli TLDs. Additionally, the registry will conduct random validation audits for the accuracy of registrant information.
Lebanon (.COM.LB, .NET.LB, and .ORG.LB)
Up until this time, in order to register these domain extensions, you had to provide a trademark registration and legalized authorization letter. Now, the only requirement is to provide a Lebanese postal address. 101domain offers a trustee service for customers who cannot meet this requirement.
Qatar (.QA and 3rd-level extensions such as .COM.QA)
If this applies to you, we will contact you upon renewal to obtain the necessary documentation, however, it is never too early to start preparing for this now. If you no longer qualify or cannot supply the documentation, we will not be able to renew your domain and your renewal payment will be refunded. We apologize and are sympathetic for any inconvenience this may cause.
We have also been informed that there will be some other policy changes around Qatari domains early next year, unfortunately, we do not have any details at this time. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Saudi Arabia (.SA and 3rd-level extensions such as .COM.SA)
The full transition to this model is expected to be completed by the end of this year. If you have received requests from us for information or action on your .SA domain names, we ask that you cooperate with these requests as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth transition.
If you have any questions about any of these updates, please reach out to your account manager or contact our support team. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.
Traditionally, domain name registration policies in the Middle East and South Central Asia regions have been more restrictive on registration practices. These top-level domains are also typically higher priced than other TLDs. We are starting to some of these registries expand their domain name zones by liberalizing registration policies, lowering prices, and updating their technology backends. This is a trend we welcome and are happy to see. These initiatives allow companies around the world to more easily enter these rapidly growing online commerce markets, promoting competition and economic opportunities for all.
We want to thank you for your continued business and support as we help you navigate these changes.