First look: Arabic for non-native designers and creatives

A framework for understanding Arabic script, as well as bridging cultural gaps

Since Arabic for Designers’ initial publication in 2005, the world’s relationship with the Arabic language has increased in complexity.

While acts of extremists in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and France have fuelled stigmas about Arabic-speaking people, the ways in which the Western world has begun to integrate the influx of Arabic-speaking, predominantly Muslim immigrants highlight the critical importance of Arabic in a truly global world.

Worldwide, Arabic is spoken by roughly 295 million people. According to the 2014 Census, approximately 1.1 million Arabic speakers reside in the US, and in Europe there are approximately 15 million Arabic speakers. Of all these individuals, a great number of them are also practising muslims. In England, Shariah courts function; in the US, a local bank in Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Arab-Americans in the US, practices Islamic financial principals.

Conversely, different factions of European governments debate banning the burka, niqab and even the building of minarets; in the Middle East ‘illegal’ fitness centres for women are shut down and teenage students can receive lashes for bringing a mobile phone to school.

Across the globe, tides of understanding and intolerance ebb and flow. The purpose of Arabic for Designers, the only accessible book on the subject, is to inform non-Arabic speaking readers, whether they work in global media or multinational business, or just want to learn more about the religious and cultural nuances of Arabic, in the name of bridging understanding.