Shilia – an Arabic font that lives hand in hand with Latin text characters

A special design principle underlies the Arabic font Shilia created by Mamoun Sakkal: the form of the characters means that they harmonise happily with sans serif Latin fonts, such as Univers. Because of this, Shilia is the ideal choice for any bilingual project and for use in international corporate branding.

Shilia™ had its beginnings in the 1970s. Taking one of the oldest variants of Arabic script, the minimalist Kufic, as his inspiration, Mamoun Sakkal fashioned simple stroke shapes that are combined according to a geometric grid. Shilia is at home in both worlds, that of the East and that of the West. And although Shilia has been primarily designed to be used as a display font, it is also ideal for setting shorter texts.

Before being published by Linotype, Shilia underwent major adaptation and updating, and is now available in the modern OpenType format. Mamoun Sakkal increased the characters available per individual typeface variant to over 1,800, and his daughter, Aida Sakkal, worked on programming the extensive OpenType features for the font. There are numerous ligatures that can be used to provide suitable variation and avoid repetition within a given context, and many special features such as the dots under the initial and final segments of words being automatically centralised.

Traditional ligatures are provided for words such as ‘Allah’. There are also swashes and overlap swashes variants for many of the letters.

Shilia not only supports Arabic, but also Persian and Urdu. Special character combinations for setting texts in these languages, particularly Urdu, are provided through OpenType. And there are a total of 19 stylistic sets with additional character variants available to the user.

An example of Urdu text

Shilia is available in eight weights, from Ultra Light to Black. The corresponding condensed versions are in the course of preparation. Along with the Arabic characters, all of the typeface versions include matching Latin alphabet letters of Adrian Frutiger’s Linotype Univers® family, making Shilia intrinsically suitable for setting bilingual texts. A set of ornaments carefully designed to allow for numerous compositions of bands and decorative patterns rounds off the range of characters on offer.

With its eight weights and soon to be released 13 width variants, Shilia is one of the most extensive of Arabic typeface families that is currently on the market. Its clear and well-balanced forms emphasise the linear nature of the font without allowing it to appear sterile or artificial. Shilia not only cuts a good figure as a display font for signage or in artistic projects, thanks to its substantial range of features, the font family can also be used to set texts, such as corporate and administrative documents. In addition, but the full compatibility between the Arabic and Latin characters makes Shilia the perfect choice for international and multilingual design projects.
See examples of Shila in use on the next page.

Online publication

Available is an online brochure on Shilia that you can read directly from your screen.

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