DUBAI CLAIMS TO BE THE FIRST CITY IN THE WORLD TO HAVE ITS OWN CUSTOM FONT, WHILE AMMAN AND MANY OTHER CITIES HAVE ACHIEVED THAT AGES AGO!
I’ve been provoked yesterday by the recent news from Dubai, that Microsoft and Monotype have created a new custom font for Dubai!
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A true creative from Egypt, an Arab pioneer in Typography and Lettering arts, he is the one behind designing the contemporary font of Cairo road and transportation signage in the early 80’s! Which makes Cairo the first Arab city that owns a custom font for its streets.
You can learn more about Dr. Fathi by reading this rare article from 1982 that I’ve dug from the Jordanian Architect Bilal Hammad’s archive in 2013. (Arabic)
Dr. Fathi (In Arabic د. فتحي جودة) was born in 1935, and still until the moment working as a design professor in the faculty of applied arts in the Helwan University.
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I was stumbled upon this photo from Egypt, showing a tiny street having this enormous amount of doctor and clinics signs over two facing buildings, unbelievable shot! A street like this must enter Guinness world records!
Now talking about the sad part: Typography, yes! I feel so ashamed for the quality of design and type in this place, and all over the Arab world cities to be more realistic! Choosing this ‘ugly’ typeface has become a virus that infected every printed material in any Arabic letters! From Afghanistan to the USA, everything is polluted with this disease!
It’s similar to Arial at some level, if we count the popularity and presence, but Arial is way and way better in legibility and decentness! Can you imagine that!
That font, originally designed by Yemeni type designer Abdualla Faris in 1993 for Diwan software company in the UK, the font named as Muna, it has two weights back then, and it was widely used in books and magazines across the Arab world as a body text font, then, Layout of Lebanon has stolen it and named: AXT Manal, after that, many hacks were happen on the font, until the final surgery which made the font that bold and bulky, I think it was done for ASHARQ AL-AWSAT newspaper from London.. then the black stupid font went so viral! And ruined a country with an amazing legacy of hand painted signs!
You need to live in the Arab world to understand what exactly I mean with stupid, ugly and bad Arabic font!
Yesterday I discovered an amazing artist from Egypt, his name is Sami Rafe سامي رافع, born in Cairo 1931, he designed the marvelous ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ in Nasr city, Egypt in 1975, writing a symbolic Egyptian names of 72 soldiers in the geometric Kufi style:
photo by: kyuen13
Photo by: peterkreder
And I was amazed by the other designs that artist did, here some logos I found on his portfolio: