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.