Kitabat – June 8, 2006

Kitabat: Arabic Calligraphy and Typography Conference

Maintaining cultural heritage in an age of global communication

Bad Homburg, June 8th, 2006. The first major conference on Arabic calligraphy and typography to take place in the Middle East was hosted by the American University in Dubai (AUD) this April. Entitled “Kitabat: Arabic Calligraphy and Typography Conference,” the conference brought together a number of distinguished and internationally renowned scholars and professionals to explore the exciting realm of Arabic text design and production. By unanimous agreement, Kitabat was an enriching experience for professionals, faculty and students alike. One participant summed it up nicely, calling it “a truly valuable opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of key people from different places and backgrounds, see some beautiful work, and have some fun together as well!” This first-of-its-kind event was organized by Linotype GmbH in partnership with the AUD, the Dubai Government: Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the Stichting Khatt Center for Arabic Typography in Amsterdam, and in collaboration with ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale).
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Opening speech by Huda AbiFares SmitshuijzenKeynote speaker Dr. Nabil Safwat
From April 5–8, typography professionals came from the Middle East, Europe and America to engage in a cross-cultural forum on the history, design, and technology of Arabic calligraphy and typography. Entitled “Kitabat” (Arabic for “writings”), the conference aimed to enhance dialogue between the two textual arts of calligraphy and typography, and to explore the possibilities for Arabic script in the new generation of digital text technologies. Dubai, a rapidly growing center of business, communications, and technology, is home to a large number of skilled calligraphers and thriving design agencies. It provided an ideal backdrop for the four-day conference. Aside from attractive evening events and activities, the conference featured lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and student projects from leading universities and art schools in the Middle East – inspiring and expanding the knowledge of all participants.

Amongst the 350 attendees at Kitabat’s opening ceremony were VIPs from Dubai, most notably His Excellency Mr. Abdul Rehman Mohammed Al Owais (UAE’s Minister of Culture, Youth, and Social Development) and Mr. Mohammed Al Murr (Chairman of the Dubai Cultural Council). The author of “The Art of the Pen,” Dr. Nabil Safwat, delivered the keynote address on calligraphy, type, and the concept of modernity. His speech was followed by a reception and the opening of the conference exhibitions, which included, among many stunning highlights, the Award winning typefaces from Linotype’s first Arabic Type Design Competition, the Mamluk and Il-Khanid Masterpieces Collection of prints based on a medieval Qur’an manuscript, and a selection of Iranian posters from the private collection of Mr. Reza Abedini.
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Linotype team welcomes Government of Dubai guestsConference delegates
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Calligraphy exhibitSpecial student project for the Kitabat Conference
A widely diverse program of presentations began on day two. These included an overview of the transition of Arabic calligraphy to print by Mr. Mohammed Zakariya (USA), a look at the early history of printing in Arabic by Mr. Geoffrey Roper (UK), a study of the relation of calligraphic styles to digital type design by Mr. Mouneer Al Shaarani (Egypt), and the story of typography’s birth from the spirit of calligraphy by Mr. Reza Abedini (Iran). The relationship between Arabic and Latin type design was also a central theme of several talks, as seen in three case studies presented by Linotype’s Arabic specialist, Ms. Nadine Chahine, and the unveiling of a new collaborative project between Dutch and Arab designers by Mrs. Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares of AUD. Also participating were award winning designers such as Gerard Unger, Mamoun Sakkal, Obeida Sidani, and Tarek Atrissi. The conference also hosted a forum on the influence of modern technology on the design of Arabic typefaces, as well as a type education panel with speakers from the most respected universities in the Middle East and Europe. The closing day was dedicated to practical and illuminating workshops in calligraphy, font technology, design, as well as a typography seminar.
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All conference speakersCalligraphy workshop with Mohammad Zakariya
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Design game workshop with Petr van BloklandFont technology workshop with Aida Sakkal and Adam Twardoch
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ATDC winners exhibit
But Kitabat wasn’t all work; a special Linotype awards night took place on the island of Madinat Jumeirah with special VIP guests from Dubai joining the conference speakers and delegates. The ceremony included a presentation of the awards and prizes by Linotype’s managing director, Mr. Bruno Steinert, as well as the competition sponsors, Winsoft and the calligraphy magazine Hurouf Arabiya.
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Bruno Steinert, Nadine Chahine, and Reza AbediniDesert safari group shot
Kitabat: Arabic Calligraphy and Typography Conference was the beginning of what promises to be an expanding forum on a subject of increasing global importance. Linotype, one of the main organizers and sponsors of the conference, already has speakers lined up and confirmed for the next conference in 2008. The conference aims to portray the beauty and grace of Arabic culture in its calligraphic art – and to map a future for the Arabic script which engages both state-of-the-art technologies and knowledge of its rich past. For more detailed information on the philosophy behind the conference and the full schedule of this year’s Kitabit, please visit
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Spontaneous calligraphy demo by Brody Neuenschwander during lunch breakLinotype booth where delegates could pick up specially design "Type and the City/ Dubai" t-shirts and postcards as well as other Linotype goodies
Linotype GmbH, based in Bad Homburg, Germany and a member of the Heidelberg Group, looks back onto a history of 120 years. Building on its strong heritage, Linotype develops state-of-the-art font technology and offers more than 6,500 original typefaces, covering the whole typographic spectrum from antique to modern, from east to west, and from classical to experimental. All typefaces (in PostScript™ and TrueType™ format as well as more than 2,500 fonts in OpenType™) are now also available for instant download at In addition to supplying digital fonts, Linotype also offers comprehensive and individual consultation and support services for font applications in worldwide (corporate) communication.

Linotype GmbH
Du-Pont-Straße 1
D-61352 Bad Homburg
Tel.: +49 (0) 61 72 - 484 - 404
Fax: +49 (0) 61 72 - 484 - 5 24 60
E-Mail: [email protected]

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