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Arabic Typography

The newly-established Arabic Typography category seeks to encourage experimentation and innovation in contemporary typographic design. Typography is the arrangement of letterforms and text in composition using digital lettering or fonts. It may include the design of letterforms but the focus of the competition is on the composition of the design. The concept and criteria invites the participants to explore both the creative interpretation of pre-existing typefaces and the generation of new and original letterforms.

The theme of rhythm will be the focus of this first edition of the Arabic Typography category.

Rhythm is not only important to poetry, music, and the spoken word, but it is also central to the way letterforms interact with each other, the way they are arranged in a typographic design composition (where print-based and static, or time-based and moving). 

Rhythm is equally central to and should be derived from Qasidat al Burda (Ode of the Mantle), a 13th-century poem in praise of the Messenger of God, Muhammad bin Abdullah (peace be upon him), written and compiled by Sufi mystic and poet Imam al-Busiri. It is considered to be one of the most renowned literary works on the praise of the Prophet.

About Qasidat al Burda
Its legacy lives on through its recital in congregations and on special occasions like Mawlid, and its decoration on walls of public buildings across the Arab and Islamic world. The poem is also considered an eloquent Arabic poetic text and a testament to the inimitability and complexity of the Arabic language.

Qasidat al Burda is divided into 10 chapters and 160 verses all rhyming with each other. Interspersing the verses is the refrain, "My Patron, confer blessings and peace continuously and eternally on Your Beloved, the Best of All Creation" (Arabic: مولاي صل وسلم دائما أبدا على حبيبك خير الخلق كلهم). Each verse ends with the Arabic letter mīm, a style called mīmiyy. Al-Busiri’s approach in composing his poem is the same approach as that of the elders. He begins with the remembrance of loved ones. He moves from chaste flirtation and warning from whims, to praising of the Messenger, may God bless him and grant him peace, and talks about specific situations from his noble biography that reflect his great morals. He then describes the Qur’an, the Night Journey (Isra’ wal-Mi'raj), jihad, and concludes with supplication and communion.

Verses from Qasidat Al Burda

To get you started the jury has recommended that you select from one of the following 3 sets of verses :

However, we encourage applicants to read and select verses from the full poem that they feel represent the theme of Rhythm and what they want to design.


Formats and submission possibilities

  • Accepted formats to be presented more as submission possibilities rather than rigid categories:
  • Print-based (posters)
  • Time-based (interactive/motion graphics/video). Audio may be used as long as copyrights are protected.

Technical criteria

  • Each applicant is allowed one submission in either format. Submissions must consist of either:
    • Print-based:
      • 1 printed poster or a series of 5 smaller posters as part of one design
      • Poster size: Minimum A5 and maximum A0
    • Time-based:
      • Duration must be limited to a maximum of 30 seconds.
      • Animation + video: MP4
      • Interactive: Digital application or interactive webpage
  • Submissions may also consist of a hybrid of both print-based and time-based with the above specifications as long as they are a series.
  • Submissions must be in the Arabic language using the Arabic script.
  • The choice of fonts and composition should highlight and interpret the meaning of the poem’s verses and present them in a creative manner.
  • Submissions will include the design of the composition and/or the design of letterforms used for creating the design.
  • Submissions can be abstracted letterforms and not necessarily readable, as long as it is expressive. The usage of non-readable letterforms should also be justified in the written description or title of the submission and should be inspired or directly related to the poem.
  • Submissions should not be a “logo” or a “logotype” unless it is part of an overall visual composition.


Additional information

We encourage applicants to watch the following videos as a form of immersion into the notion of rhythm within Islamic culture:


Prize Money

1 st place
AED 70,000
10 Finalists x AED 10,000
AED 170,000