Dubai is a city obsessed with breaking records. It erected the world’s tallest building, boasts the world’s largest fireworks display, and is currently racing to build the world’s first hyperloop. Now it’s got another milestone to brag about: a specially-commissioned typeface, developed in partnership with Microsoft.
Dubai Font, which was designed simultaneously in both Arabic and Latin, is available in a total of 23 languages. It is pre-installed in Microsoft Office 365 and is freely available for Microsoft’s 100 million users in 180 countries. It’s also now available as a free download in Open Type and Webfont formats, for both Windows and Mac OS platforms.
The task of translating the calligraphic Arabic script to digital typography has challenged designers for decades. The conundrum lies in translating graceful calligraphic marks to pixel-based digital formats, and making sure they’re legible for a range of media—from print to websites, video screens, and mobile phones.
Few type designers have been successful in walking the line between functionality and beauty. But among them is Dubai Font’s creator Nadine Chahine. “The aim was to make the font legible, while also conveying the spirit of Dubai as a city with openness to other cultures who live on its land in harmony and peace,” she told the Khaleej Times, a daily English-language UAE newspaper.
UAE crown prince Hamdan bin Mohammed al-Maktoum is asking all government agencies to use it in their official correspondence. He framed the font’s development as a part of Dubai’s effort to become a world-class tech hub. “The launch of the Dubai Font to the world is a very important step for us as part of our continuous efforts to be ranked first in the digital world,” he said.