Tarkeeb: An Arabic Type Platform

For my thesis project at Parsons, School of Design, I created Tarkeeb, an online platform that facilitates the creation of a community of emerging designers and type professionals to share and promote their Arabic typographic projects – including font design, lettering, and other typographic explorations. This provides Arabic type foundries a place to explore and access talent. With English dominating the internet experience, online representation for native Arabic speakers has been scarce, partially because of a limited variety of Arabic web fonts, online Arabic typographic works, and resources pertaining to Arabic typography. By providing an online collection of Arabic typographic works and an opportunity for designers to be discovered, the platform aims to aid the advancement of Arabic online communication. View website



There are roughly around 390 million Arabic speakers in the world, making Arabic on of the most widely spoken languages. Despite this, the online presence of Arabic is scarce, in part, due to the fact that the process of typesetting the Arabic script is more challenging and more complex than typesetting using the Latin script. Yet, the major reason behind this disproportion is that English, or the Latin writing system, has become the preferred online language, dominating the internet experience. In the process, it marginalizes other writing systems, especially in many Arabic speaking countries. Latin-based web fonts have become extremely accessible, while a variety of Arabic fonts remains limited. Google has published hundreds of free latin-based web fonts and only a handful of Arabic fonts.





Domain Diagram

The diagram served to draw relationships between different features and processes, and visually map out how they’re all dependent on each other. It helped me reaffirm the centrality of the user to the platform, which makes user testing an essential part of the development of my thesis. This is a part of the process that I’ll be giving primary importance to with every iteration I make to it.


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Interviews & User Testing

Questions at an interview with a Brooklyn based Arabic type designer:

1- Do you find the need in having an online place for compiled resources and references around Arabic typography, that users can easily access?

Very much so. One of the things that is lacking in our community is a unified online database for resources about Arabic typography, calligraphy, the history of their evolution, and free fonts people can download. Creating that space would be a small step towards innovating that field.

2- How do you see a platform that helps emerging Arabic designers share and collaborate on their fonts with other professionals by open sourcing them, as something that could innovate and democratize the process of Arabic font design?

It’s an interesting idea, but as a practitioner, and someone who’s lively hood relies on Arabic font design, I can’t see how a type designer could easily relinquish copyright to their own work, or publish it online for other users to edit and play around with. I also can’t see a strong incentive for professional type designers, like myself, to become users of the platform, unless, you turn it into a social networking site for emerging designers to connect with type foundries, let’s say, and collaborate on the font that can be published on the foundry’s website. That way, you can help outsource to other font designers, and make it easier to design a font and publish it.

Conclusion: The concept of “open source” is too early to adopt with Arabic font design and needs a stronger incentive. It might be more practical to start with creating a space to connect designers, thereby facilitating the process of finding the human and financial resources to develop their fonts, then, when enough users are on the platform, think of ways to incentivize making the fonts open source.


Designer Profiles on the Platform



Talia is a Lebanese graphic designer, born is Paris and now living in New York. She graduated from the Lebanese American University with a BS in Graphic Design and a concentration in print media. Later she was hired as an Art Director in an Advertising agency. Today, she is pursuing a masters degree at Pratt Institute specializing in Packaging Design.

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Mohammad Hosso is a fresh Graphic design graduate from the Lebanese American University. He’s interested in illustration and the ways technology is shaping today’s trends in Graphic Design. Mohammad is currently working in a branding company based in Beirut.

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Visual Identity sketches





Final Product at the Thesis Show


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