Linotype Report on Kitabat Conference

Quoted from report on Linotype's website

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).

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.

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.