Thursday, October 06, 2005


Nestled between Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City, the two centers for design, media and technology in the region, the American University in Dubai is the perfect venue for this event. The Visual Communication Department at AUD has also established itself as one of the leading centers in the region for typography, design, advertising, and photography. Dubai, home to a large number of skilled calligraphers and thriving design agencies, provides a perfect infrastructure for holding such an event, as it has become a hub of fast growing businesses, communication and technology.


The main topics of the conference are history of Arabic calligraphy and printing, Arabic type design and technology, and Arabic typography and design. There will also be workshops, seminars, and panels on Arabic calligraphy, type design, type technology, and type education. The keynote speaker is Dr. Nabil F. Safwat, author of “The Art of the Pen” and the title of the keynote is Word as Insight: Visual Understanding In The Contemporary Culture. Confirmed speakers include Huda Abi Fares Smitshuijzen (AUD & Stichting Khatt), Nadine Chahine (Linotype Library, Germany), John Hudson (Tiro Typeworks, Canada), Gerry Leonidas (University of Reading, UK), Kamal Mansour (Monotype, USA), Fiona Ross (Rosstype & University of Reading, UK), and Bruno Steinert (Linotype Library, Germany). The conference will also host a series of side events such as the Award Ceremony for Linotype's Arabic Type Design Competition where the winning entries will be exhibited and the prizes given out.

Kitabat, Arabic Calligraphy and Typography Conference

The Visual Communication Department at the American University in Dubai, in partnership with Linotype Library GmBH and Stichting Khatt (Center for Arabic Typography), and in collaboration with the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) will be hosting Kitabat, the first major Calligraphic and Typographic conference in the region, between the 5th and 8th of April, 2006.

The aim of this conference is to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western cultures, and lead to a two-way cultural exchange. It also seeks to enhance the dialogue between calligraphy and typography.

The Middle East is experiencing a change in its relationship with the West and with its own cultural heritage. In the emerging economies of the Arab world there are conflicting feelings about globalization and westernization that sometimes manifest themselves in mutually negative misconceptions. Improving channels of communication amongst the two camps can only help bring about better understanding and tolerance. As Edward Said once mentioned, “I would like to call [that] not the clash of civilization but rather the dialogue of civilization.

On the other hand, there has been an increase in international interest in Arabic typography and hence the necessity of holding such a conference. During the Vancouver conference of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) in September 2003, a whole afternoon forum was dedicated to Arabic typography with a number of speakers from different educational institutions and with various design specializations. International publications are racing to print articles about Arabic typography and even online forums and email lists are continuously getting into Arabic related topics.

However, there is a lack of knowledge among many Arabic typographers about what is possible for the Arabic script in the new generation of digital text technologies, and a lack of dialogue between typographers and calligraphers. The conference aims to portray to the international eye, the beauty and grace of the Arabic culture as manifested in its calligraphic arts, and to map a future for the Arabic script that is fully engaged with both the latest technologies and knowledge of its rich past.