Panel Discussion

Relevant Graphic Design: Communicating Regional and Cultural Narratives

Panel Discussion: Nomadic Traces Creative Weekend

22 Jun 2019

Salem Al-Qassimi, Founder and Principal, Fikra Design Studio
Hala Al Ani, Visiting Lecturer, American University of Sharjah
Maya Moumne, Cofounder & Creative Director, Studio Safar
Dr.Haytham Nawar, Assistant Professor & Director of the Graphic Design program, Department of the Arts, the American University in Cairo


Graphic design is a ubiquitous and en ever-evolving practice that touches every aspect of contemporary life. It is an approach and a way of thinking, and shapes messages and narratives — graphic design is a discipline that is capable of altering and shaping our world.

This panel discusses the important role of graphic design in communicating regional narratives and the responsibilities of the graphic designer in doing so.


Please register on the Warehouse421 site (click here)

Salem Al-Qassimi is an Emirati multidisciplinary graphic designer, educator, and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Principal of Fikra Design Studio (est. 2006) and Fikra Campus (est. 2017), a design-led educational platform. He is the Director of the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial (est. 2018). Al-Qassimi holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design (2011) and a BS in Multimedia Design from the American University of Sharjah (2005). He has served as instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design (2011), as Assistant Professor of Design at the American University of Sharjah (2011-2017), and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Design at New York University Abu Dhabi (2017). His research addresses notions of contemporary cultural identity in the UAE and the region through the lens of graphic design practice. Al-Qassimi has participated in a number of exhibitions both in the UAE and abroad, and has published numerous articles, reviews, and essays on Arabic typography, culture, design, and design education. He has won several international awards, including the Type Directors Club (2012, 2017), the Young Creative Entrepreneur Culture Award by the British Council (2014), ShjSeen Startup award (2016), and has been featured in the Forbes Middle East list of “Business Leaders Inspiring The UAE” (2015).

Hala Al-Ani was born in Iraq in 1986 and was raised in the UAE. She received her BSc in Visual Communication from the American University of Sharjah in 2009, her MDes in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her MA in Iconic Research from Basel School of Design in 2016. Her work has been shown in internationally recognized exhibitions including Sharjah Biennial, Istanbul Design Biennial and Jogja Biennial. In 2010, Al-Ani and two of her contemporaries, Hadeyeh Badri and Riem Hassan, founded Mobius Design Studio. The studio has worked with various academic and cultural institutions, including Dubai Design Week and the UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The main ethos behind Mobius Design Studio is to create a space and an opportunity to balance studio-initiated research, commissioned and independent work.

Maya Moumne is a Beirut-based creative director. Seven years ago, she co-founded Studio Safar, a dynamic and exploratory design and art direction company whose name evokes just that: Safar being Arabic for travel. She is also the creative director and co-founder of Journal Safar, Beirut’s independent visual and design culture magazine. Her work spans different media and design frameworks such as branding and communication strategies, publication design, content generation, editorial stories and exhibition design. Her studio’s work has been displayed in various cities across Europe and the Middle East, and featured in It's Nice That, Monocle Magazine, Vogue, Brownbook Magazine, and Harper’s Bazar Japan, among others.

Dr. Haytham Nawar is an artist, designer, and researcher who currently lives and works in Cairo. He is Assistant Professor and Director of the Graphic Design Program, Department of the Arts, at the American University in Cairo. He is the founder and director of Cairotronica: Cairo Electronic, and New Media Arts Festival. Nawar received his Ph.D. from the Planetary Collegium, Center for Advanced Inquiry in Integrative Arts, School of Art and Media - University of Plymouth. A Fulbright alumnus, he holds a Masters of Advanced Studies in Spatial Design from the Institute of Design & Technology, Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland, and an MFA in New Media and BFA in Printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Cairo, Egypt. Since 1999, he has participated in several international exhibitions, biennales, and triennials, the latest of which was Venice Biennial in 2015. Nawar has garnered awards and acquisitions nationally and internationally in Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Portugal, Kuwait, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Syria, the UAE and the USA.

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