Article details 0 comments
28/07 2007

khatt kufi & Kaffiya | Symposium on Arabic Visual Culture

Next month I will be speaking at this event, and it should be interesting for people interested in Arabic Typography:

khatt kufi & Kaffiya
The Khatt Foundation Symposium on Arabic Visual Culture
24 August 2007, Amsterdam

The Khatt foundation in collaboration with Mediamatic will host a full day of lectures, presentations and celebration of new Arabic cultural expression.

The day events will include:
– the one-day symposium
– the launch of 5 new Arabic typefaces (
– the Typographic Matchmaking book (
– the international online community,the Khatt Network for Arabic Typography (
– the El-Hema Exhibition (
– workshops
– the El-Hema design competition

The aim of this symposium is to discuss the positive role of design and typography in Arabic youth culture, how it can generate positive perceptions and productive collaborations that bridge the gap between Eastern and Western cultures.


A selection of scholars and designers from the Middle East, the US and Europe will discuss the impact of historical and contemporary visual culture on Arabic identity. New forms of visual expression, such as new Arabic typefaces, and other cross-cultural design experiments will be the focus of the symposium. The symposium will introduce the Khatt Foundations’ collaborative pilot design project Typographic Matchmaking. Among other topics the symposium will cover topics that vary from history of European printing of Arabic books, to expressive calligraphy, to the relation of typography and dance, to the relation between culture and technological advancement in the printing arts, to political activism through visual communication in the Middle East, to case studies of inter-cultural design project between Dutch designer and Arab institutions (or designers), and statistical information about the visual arts, design, new media and typographic expression in the Arab world.

The symposium’s speakers:
Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès (Khatt Foundation, Dubai-Amsterdam)
—Introducing the Khatt Network of Arabic typography.
Willem Velthoven (Khatt Foundation / Stichting Mediamatic, Amsterdam)
—From amulet to art nouveau: a thousand years of Arab-European exchange in printing and book design.
Dr. Goeffrey Roper (Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University, London)
—Visiting Shiba.
Jelle van der Toorn Vrijthoff (President of AGI & Principal of QuinX bv. Amsterdam)
—Writing From The Margins: Technological Narratives of Arabic Typography.
J.R. Osborn (University of Callifornia, San Diego)
—Interface: Expressive Western and Arabic Calligraphy in Dialogue.
Brody Neuenschwander (Artist/Calligrapher, Brugges)
—Marhaba: The Search for a Hybrid Visual Language.
Jacques Koeweiden (Koeweiden Postma, Amsterdam)
—On Activism, Design and Politics in the Arab World: the Case of Visual Culture in Beirut.
Zeina Maasri (American University of Beirut)
—On Contemporary Children’s Books in the Arabic Language.
Nadine Touma (Dar Onboz publishers, Beirut)
—Unfamiliar Territories: Arabic Type and Modern Dance.
Peter Bilak (Typotheque, Den Haag)
—The Current Market for Arabic Fonts: Recent Developments and Consumer Needs.
Nadine Chahine (Linotype Library, Germany)
—Practical constraints for Arabic type usage and typesetting in new media.
Fawzi Rahal (Grey Worldwide, Dubai)
—The typographic lanscapes of the Arab World, reasearch on aesthetic trends and legibility studies.
Tarek Atrissi (Atrissi Design, Hilversum)
—Case Studies: Developing dual-script fonts. Interview with the designers involved in the Typographic Matchmaking project.
Pascal Zoghbi (Notre Dame University, Lebanon), Willem Velthoven and others.
—CLosing Session & Book-signing.
Pascal Zoghbi

Registration & Fees

The cost of the symposium is 45 Euro (20 Euro for students with valid ID).
Registration includes a free copy of the book Typographic Matchmaking and bonus CD (which has a retail price of 30 Euro), a lunch, and a reception.
Registration will be available as of next week at

El-Hema Exhibition

The symposium will be followed by an exhibition entitled El-HEMA which will take place in Mediamatic’s gallery space (on the ground floor of the PostCS building). The exhibition will open on the night of the 24th of August and will go on until the 26th of October.

The symposium and related events, have been generously supported by the Fonds BKVB, the Khatt Foundation, Stichting Mediamatic, the Openbare Bibliotheek van Amsterdam, and BIS Publishers.