Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Get your mind out of the Qatar, 2: Typography

One interesting phenomenon I found in Qatar (which presumably exists across the Arab world, and indeed a few of these pictures are from the Amman airport, but is positively correlated with American influence) is the use of Arabic fonts that are in clear imitation of specific English fonts. Not being a native Arabic speaker, I can't gauge whether they really look like passable Arabic, or whether they look kitschy like those English fonts that attempt to look like Hebrew or Chinese. In any case, the western influence in Qatar is so strong that even if this once looked kitschy, it's completely normal now.

Here are some of the better examples of this phenomenon.

This sign is interesting for similar reasons:

As an English speaker, you probably think the logo says "DI". But it also says "دا" (dal alif), so the initialism works in both languages.


  1. as I recall, Israelis do the same thing.

  2. LOL, i love the "Tide Blus" :-P

    if i remember correctly, in "Metamagical Themas" there's a chapter about how fonts jump scripts between different languages.

  3. Is this really a case of imitation of specific English fonts? It looks more like imitating well known brands' logos/trademarks.

  4. That would be Tide SUBER Blus!

  5. I love the 'em in em miniz.' Curious how these random transliterations become new words in Arabic (and in all languages, thanks to globalization). I was curious--here's the origin of the candies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%26M%27s