Khatt, kufi & kaffiya

Symposium on Arabic visual culture

24 Aug 2007

A full day of lectures, presentations and celebration of new Arabic cultural expression. The days events included: a one-day symposium, the launch of 5 new Arabic typefaces, a book, an international online community, workshops, the opening of the EL HEMA and a design competition.

The aim of this symposium was 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 discussed 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 were the focus of the symposium. The symposium introduced the Khatt Foundations’ collaborative pilot design project Typographic Matchmaking.

Among other topics the symposium covered 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.

For a detailed conference programme, please refer to the Khatt Foundation website.


The speakers included: Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès (Khatt Foundation), Willem Velthoven (Khatt Foundation / Stichting Mediamatic), Dr. Goeffrey Roper (Index Islamicus, London), J.R. Osborn (University of Callifornia, San Diego), Peter Bilak (Typotheque, Den Haag), Brody Neuenschwander (Artist/Calligrapher, Brugges), Nadine Touma (Dar Onboz publishers, Beirut), Jacques Koeweiden (Koeweiden Postma, Amsterdam), Jelle van der Toorn Vrijthoff (QuinX bv. Amsterdam), Zeina Maasri (American University of Beirut), Nadine Chahine (Linotype Library, Germany), Fawzi Rahal (Grey Worldwide, Dubai), Tarek Atrissi (Atrissi Design, Hilversum) and Pascal Zoghbi (Notre Dame University, Lebanon).

El Hema

The symposium was followed by an exhibition entitled El-HEMA which tookplace in Mediamatic’s gallery space (on the ground floor of the PostCS building). The exhibition opened on the night of the 24th of August and will go on until the 4th of November.

The Symposium on Arabic Letters and Contemporary Visual Culture, and related events, have been generously supported by the Fonds BKVB, the Khatt Foundation, Stichting Mediamatic, the Openbare Bibliotheek van Amsterdam, and BIS Publishers.


KhKuKa logo Arabic only at Mediamatic - Khatt, Kufi & Kaffiya logo is typeset with TheMix Arabic font by Luc(as) de Groot. Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares