Talking About Arabic 2009

, by George Kandalaft

Following the success of Arabic for Designers, it comes as no surprise to discover that Mourad Boutros has now published his second book, Talking About Arabic.

While Arabic for Designers serves as a primer for non-Arabic speakers to approach designing with Arabic, Talking About Arabic offers a fascinating and informative examination of the wider issues.

This time, Mourad has enlisted the expertise of his peers - well-respected figures in the field of Arabic graphic design and typography - to explore topics ranging from the nuances and holy influences of Arabic to teaching Arabic type design in a global context.

Advertising guru Alain Khouri, Chaiman of Impact BBDO, one of the region’s top creative networks, introduces the reader to the subject with an authoritative overview of the Middle East communications industry.

David Learman brings his wealth of expertise to discuss Arabic design from a non-Arabic perspective, providing a scholarly insight into the subtleties and nuances of working with Middle East clients.

Halim Choueiry brings a global perspective to Arabic type design, reflecting upon the creativity arising from the inherent conflict between globalisation and local culture and language.

George Kandalaft brings the first section of the book, Current Arabic Design Thinking, to a close with a fascinating exposition of the rapid development of multilingual web design, followed by a case study on SPIP, a true multilingual content management system.

The thematic thread that runs through every article, case study and illustration exposes how technological advances have furthered and changed the use of Arabic type throughout the world, whether in print or on the web. The author presents detailed accounts of technological developments which have permitted digitised Arabic type to accurately represent the classical art of Arabic calligraphy.

The book’s three parts all focus on how Arabic has become part of the international typographical landscape in its use all over the world in stand-alone and multilingual applications. They provide a framework for non-Arabic speakers to consider the language’s cultural, religious and aesthetic dimensions in the 21st century. Furthermore, native Arabic speakers will also find much value in this collection, particularly as it emphasises how technology has finally caught up with Arabic calligraphy.

Whether exploring the development of Arabic font technology, the creation of typographic harmony between Latin and Arabic fonts or showcasing innovative Arabic design, Talking About Arabic is a welcome and necessary addition to the bookshelf of anyone concerned with using Arabic as a design tool.