The Ara­bic type­face that got global dis­tri­bu­tion by Google

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

When ta­jawal, the fastest grow­ing on­line travel plat­form in the Mid­dle East, de­cided to de­velop a new brand iden­tity, it chose the lead­ing Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy and ty­pog­ra­phy ex­perts, the Boutros Group to han­dle all as­pects of the ty­pog­ra­phy in­volved.

The Boutros Group has led the field of Ara­bic cre­ativ­ity, ty­pog­ra­phy, cal­lig­ra­phy and de­sign for more than 40 years. Based in Lon­don, the com­pany has long served the needs of the Ara­bic-speak­ing world, as well as of in­ter­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions seek­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with the Ara­bic mar­ket. Projects have ranged from the cre­ation of Ara­bic type­face col­lec­tions for in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned soft­ware and de­sign houses to cor­po­rate Ara­bic lo­go­types and pri­vate com­mis­sions. The Boutros Group has pro­vided ex­per­tise to IBM, Ap­ple, Alara­biya, the MBC group and the BBC, to name just a few. Its founders, Mourad and Ar­lette Boutros are widely ac­knowl­edged as two of the world’s most out­stand­ing Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phers, de­sign­ers and ty­pog­ra­phers.

In a talk with Arabad, Ta­jawal’s CEO Muham­mad Ch­bib dis­cusses the new brand iden­tity and the travel plat­form’s com­mit­ment to Ara­bic cul­ture and cal­lig­ra­phy. Mourad Boutros of Boutros Group elab­o­rates fur­ther on the speci­ficity of this new type, while

Google’s Dave Cross­land ex­plains the rea­sons that pushed Google to par­take in this pro­ject and in­clude ta­jawal among the Free Open Source type­faces avail­able for ev­ery­body world­wide.

Arabad: What prompted your de­ci­sion to de­velop a new brand iden­tity and a type­face in par­tic­u­lar?

Muham­mad Ch­bib: We care­fully stud­ied the mar­ket and iden­ti­fied the seg­ments that made sense for us to tackle. There is a big gap be­tween generic of­fer­ings, mostly tar­get­ing English­s­peak­ing ex­pa­tri­ates, and cater­ing to the lo­cal needs of the ma­jor­ity of the Ara­bic speak­ing pop­u­la­tion of the re­gion. We wanted to cre­ate a brand that caters specif­i­cally to those needs. As part of our all-en­com­pass­ing brand­ing ex­er­cise, we were also look­ing for a type­face that is mod­ern and rooted in our Ara­bic her­itage at the same time.

AA: How does a type­face help meet your busi­ness ob­jec­tives?

MC: It is one of the main brand com­po­nents. We be­lieve that a strong brand has to be recog­nised through all me­dia and all chan­nels. The type­face plays a key role in that. If you look at the ma­jor play­ers in most mar­ket sec­tors, they are nearly all mar­ket­ing-led and they put a lot of ef­fort into com­mis­sion­ing or li­cens­ing type­faces that are an integral part of their brand iden­tity. We are fol­low­ing the same route.

AA: What would you say were the ben­e­fits of the type­face be­ing avail­able for world­wide free dis­tri­bu­tion on the Google Fonts web­site?

MC: We be­lieve in the Open Source con­cept in gen­eral. Our IT work is shared in cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties be­cause on one hand we are proud of it, and on the other hand, we want peo­ple to ben­e­fit from the in­no­va­tions we work on. We are very proud of our ta­jawal font and we would love to see it spread around the globe. Google has be­come the de facto stan­dard free li­brary for high qual­ity fonts and we feel it is the best chan­nel for us to spread the word.

AA: Is there any­thing else that you would like to add?

MC: We would like to see many more up­com­ing Ara­bic brands fol­low a sim­i­lar path and spread high qual­ity ty­pog­ra­phy from the MENA re­gion to the rest of the world.

We would like to see many more up­com­ing Ara­bic brands fol­low a sim­i­lar path and spread high qual­ity ty­pog­ra­phy from the MENA re­gion to the rest of the world.

AA: What first in­ter­ested you in this pro­ject and why?

Mourad Boutros: We have had ta­jawal for some years now as a client. The com­pany has its roots in Ara­bic cul­ture and has a pas­sion for Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy and ty­pog­ra­phy. More­over, there is no bet­ter way to sup­port a ty­po­graph­i­cal pro­ject such as this than world­wide dis­tri­bu­tion through Google Fonts. AA: What are the spe­cial fea­tures of the type­face?

MB: It is a dis­tinc­tive mod­ern Ara­bic type­face, avail­able in seven weights. The range was cre­ated by Boutros fol­low­ing a mod­ern geo­met­ric style, while still re­spect­ing Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy rules. Its fluid geom­e­try makes ta­jawal the per­fect choice to use in web ap­pli­ca­tions, and along­side its match­ing Latin type­faces. AA: Do you re­gard this pro­ject as a com­mer­cial ex­er­cise?

MB: It is both a com­mer­cial and a cul­tural ex­er­cise. The main aim is to spread aware­ness of Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy and ty­pog­ra­phy on a world­wide ba­sis.

AA: Is there any­thing else that you would like to add?

MB: Hope­fully, we have paved the way for more orig­i­nal work and the gen­er­a­tion of new ideas for the ben­e­fit of all. AA: How did Google be­come in­volved with this pro­ject?

Dave Cross­land: Mourad ap­proached me to pro­pose this type­face, and af­ter re­view­ing the de­sign I ac­cepted it. Google’s mis­sion is to make the web more beau­ti­ful, fast, and open through great ty­pog­ra­phy. We be­lieve the best way to bring per­son­al­ity and per­for­mance to web­sites and prod­ucts is through great de­sign and tech­nol­ogy. We are work­ing with de­sign­ers around the world to dis­trib­ute best-in-class type­face de­signs that are made for the web.

AA: Why did you se­lect ta­jawal’s new type­face for your cat­a­logue?

DC: It is good qual­ity, and sup­ports both the Ara­bic and Latin writ­ing sys­tems. All new fonts have to be vet­ted by our team of de­sign­ers and en­gi­neers. Once this has been done, we aim to showcase in­di­vid­ual type de­sign­ers and foundries, pro­vid­ing valu­able in­for­ma­tion about the peo­ple and their pro­cesses, as well as an­a­lyt­ics on us­age and de­mo­graph­ics.

AA: What is the rea­son for Google’s de­ci­sion to make Free Open Source type­faces avail­able for ev­ery­body world­wide?

DC: Open source li­cens­ing means that end users can share fa­vorites and col­lab­o­rate eas­ily with friends and col­leagues. It also means that any­one can look at the source files to learn how they are made, and re­port any is­sues they en­counter and dis­cuss how to re­solve them.

AA: Why don’t you pay de­sign­ers?

DC: While we do pay de­sign­ers on a case by case ba­sis, we do ap­pre­ci­ate the con­tri­bu­tions and do­na­tions from the wider com­mu­nity such as this font fam­ily.

AA: Is there any­thing else that you would like to add?

DC: Fonts are com­plex and we en­cour­age users to re­port any is­sues they en­counter with any font avail­able from Google Fonts on the Github is­sue tracker.

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