Agenda | 24-25 March 2020 | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

09:00 – 10:00 Opening Ceremony

Welcome speeches by the local host Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), the organizer ICANN, and sponsors.

Master of Ceremony:
Baher Esmat, VP of Stakeholder Engagement in the Middle East -ICANN 


  • CITC
10:00 – 10:30 Coffee Break
10:30 – 11:15 Presentation:
ICANN for Newcomers 

The presentation covers the following:

  • ICANN and its role in maintaining the security, stability, and resiliency of the unique identifier system
  • ICANN’s mission, the supporting organizations and advisory committees, policy development process (PDP) work, and its organization
  • ICANN’s regional presence and efforts

  • Nick Tomasso, Vice President of Global Meeting Operations and Managing Director of the Middle East and Africa Regional Office in Istanbul – ICANN
  • Fahd Batayneh, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement in the Middle East – ICANN
11:15 – 12:00 Keynote Speech:
The DNS of Tomorrow 

The speech covers the following:

  • The current DNS landscape and ecosystem
  • Emerging standards such as DNS Over HTTPS (DoH), and DNS over TLS (DoT) amongst others, and their effect on the DNS
  • Emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, 5G, and Smart Cities amongst others, and their effect on the DNS
  • The cyber threat landscape, its growth trends, and relevant ICANN work

  • David Conrad, Chief Technology Officer – ICANN
12:00 – 12:15 Prayer Break
12:15 – 13:00 Presentation:
Domain Name Security Extension (DNSSEC) 

The presentation explores DNSSEC as a technology and its importance. Data on the status of DNSSEC deployment worldwide, and the experience of a ccTLD in promoting and marketing DNSSEC is shared.


  • SIDN
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 15:30 Panel Discussion:
Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and Universal Acceptance (UA) 

The session provides an update on the work on IDNs as well as the efforts being undertaken to address the universal acceptance of all domain names and email addresses (UA). It also explores how the regional community can contribute to these efforts.

Presenters – IDN Adoption and Updates Keynote:

  • Giovanni Seppia, Stakeholder Relations Manager – EURID
  • Sarmad Hussain, Director of IDN Programs – ICANN

Presenters – UA Challenges and Solutions:

  • Sarmad Hussain, Director of IDN Programs – ICANN [Moderator]
  • Abdelmonim Galilla, National Telecom Regulatory Authority of Egypt
15:30 – 16:00 Fireside Chat:
Utilizing the Arab Language for the Benefit of the Internet 

The one-on-one discussion is on how SaudiNIC has utilized the Arabic language for the benefit of its community and the Internet as a whole.


  • Baher Esmat, VP of Stakeholder Engagement in the Middle East – ICANN [Moderator]
  • SaudiNIC


09:00 – 10:15 Panel Discussion:
Country-code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) Policies and Entrepreneurship

The session delves into the experiences of ccTLD registries, ICANN accredited registrars and local registrars, both from the region and beyond. Panelists provide insights on how ccTLD policies affect growth in the domain market. They also share perspectives and experiences on promoting entrepreneurship in the domain name business.


  • Giovanni Seppia – EURid [Moderator]
  • Munir Badr, Founder and CEO – AE Server
  • Michele Neylon, Founder and CEO – Blacknight Solutions
10:15 – 10:30 Coffee Break
10:30 – 11:40 Presentation & Panel Discussion:
The New generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Marketplace: Global View and Regional Challenges

The session begins with a presentation by ICANN’s Global Domains Division (GDD) on the domain name marketplace, highlighting the findings from the regular reports issued by ICANN on the topic. Then, a follow-up discussion takes place with two regional gTLD registry operators, sharing their experiences in the Middle East and beyond, and their views on the regional opportunities and challenges.



  • Mohammed Al-Ammouri, Business Development Manager in MENA – CentralNIC
  • Mohammed Zeidan, General Manager of MENA – Neustar


11:40 – 12:00 Presentation:
Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP)

The presentation covers RDAP, the new standard that is expected to eventually replace WHOIS, and explores the advantages of RDAP over WHOIS.





12:00 – 12:15 Prayer Break
12:15 – 13:00 Presentation:
Data Intelligence at a Top-Level Domain (TLD) Registry

The presentation uncovers how TLD registries can utilize data intelligence within their registry backend to visualize what potential registrants are looking for in terms of domain names. It also benefits registries in projecting potential registrations and renewal rates, and helps work closely with the supply chain of registrars and resellers in taking appropriate actions.



  • SIDN
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 15:00 Panel Discussion:
Developments in the DNS Ecosystem: A Policy Perspective

The panel is on some of the policy aspects of the DNS ecosystem. The panelists explore examples of key policy issues and processes pertaining to the DNS, and share their experiences of engaging in the policy work at ICANN.



  • Manal Ismail, GAC Chair
  • Amr El-Sadr, Consultant


15:00 – 15:30 Presentation:
Using the Ethereum Blockchain to Expand and Enhance DNS

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is an open-source project that is using the Ethereum blockchain to expand and enhance the traditional Domain Name System. This talk explains how ENS has integrated the DNS namespace onto Ethereum, allows registrants to use their existing domain names to receive cryptocurrency, and improves serving traditional DNS records.


  • Brantly Millegan, Director of Operations – Ethereum Name Service (ENS)
15:30 – 16:00 Closing Ceremony

Closing remarks by local host and organizers.

We would like to express our gratitude to members of the Middle East DNS Forum Program Committee (PC) for working on the agenda, and for their valuable contributions along the way.