Diriyah City Typeface, Saudi Arabia

Year: 2020. Country: Saudi Arabia

The office of Tarek Atrissi Design has been commissioned to design a custom bilingual typeface for the city of Diriyah in Saudi Arabia, to be used exclusively by the authorities as part of the official branding of the Diriyah destination. Diriyah is considered as the birthplace of the Saudi nation, with a rich heritage that includes At-Turaif (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and is known for its traditional mud-brick architecture and various iconic landmarks that tells countless stories of Saudi history.

The office of Tarek Atrissi Design- based in Barcelona and with an office in The Netherlands- has been chosen to work on this national project due to the office’s extensive expertise in designing Arabic and bilingual typefaces, and the office’s particular experience in destination branding. In Saudi Arabia, the office of Tarek Atrissi Design has designed and produced some of the most visible typefaces in the country, including the Metro Riyadh typeface, the typeface of the Riyadh Development Authority, the typeface of the ithra cultural center, as well as the typeface for Saudi Aramco. Internationally, the office of Tarek Atrissi Design (www.atrissi.com) has worked with companies such as Apple, the V&A museum in London, and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in New York.

The new typeface family consists of a headline and text font, available each in Arabic and Latin and in three difference weight.

The Diriyah font design is based on a particular historic inspiration: it follows the school of calligraphic practice in Diriyah in Saudi Arabia, before its destruction in 1818. A generation of good calligraphers emerged at the time and developed calligraphic written material that had a distinct style, typical to the region, and not particularly following the popular calligraphic styles of the time. The idea of developing the Diriyah font came from the vision of reviving this cultural heritage and transforming this calligraphic unique style into a high-quality digital typeface.

A specific historic manuscript was taken as a basis for the design inspiration: “almuqana” by “Ibn Qudamah” in the handwriting of sheikh Sulayman ibn Abdullah ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, and which is considered one of the best calligraphic pieces of the time (it was produced in 1805)

The design of the Diriyah digital font aimed at reviving the particular typographic characteristics found in the calligraphic style of this manuscript, a unique style combining Thuluth and Naskh characteristics with other design traits specific to it. Several letterforms followed the exact design found in the historic manuscripts. Unique forms of specific letters were introduced in the font design, inspired by the references and making the font more ownable. The overall proportions were modified to maintain a better proportion of the font, keeping the unique features yet simplifying them to be modular and applicable as a digital typeface. The final font design is characterized by strong contrast, short descender and bold calligraphic strokes

The Display font is characterized by a stronger personality: It translates the unique characteristics of the historic manuscript in a more exaggerated way, to make the font very recognizable for the Diriyah brand. The text fonts on the other side are more simplified, keeping the overall spirit of the typeface but adjusted to have more classic letterforms to make sure the font is legible in very small sizes.

Besides designing custom typefaces for exclusive usage by brands and government entities, the office of Tarek Atrissi Design regular designs and develop retail Arabic and bilingual fonts and license them to the design community through the type foundry www.ArabicTypography.com

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