The text was written by Huda AbiFares for the 2nd issue of the Oryx Magazine in its new look.
Al Maha (Oryx) Logotype
The Elegant Lightness of Arabic Calligraphy
When Agency Fish was commissioned to re-design Qatar Airways’ Oryx (Al Maha) in -flight magazine, for the logotype the company collaborated with talented Arab designers, including Pascal Zoghbi, to propose an expressive logotype that exuded modern elegance and youthful dynamism, combined with a unique Arabian travel mood.
Under the creative direction of Qatar Airways, primacy was given to handwritten Arabic calligraphy with the English name and font secondary in hierarchy. Pascal Zoghbi’s design, which was chosen for the final logo, is representative of how the designers’ approach offers an insight into how the Arabic script can be used. Zoghbi proposed two directions: one using traditional fluid calligraphy as a starting point, the second using modern Kufic letters. The latter approach proved too rigid and was dropped early on in the process. In his early sketches, Zoghbi tried to incorporate the image of the oryx’s head either by adding an illustration, or by twisting the letters to form this image (a well-known old Arabic calligraphy trick). Later he reverted to a more abstract calligraphic approach using the ‘heh’ (Arabic letter H) in the ‘Al Maha’ word to experiment with different forms and ways of linking it to the letters before and after it. After the rough sketching phase, Zoghbi consulted the Lebanese calligrapher Ali Assi for guidance from a seasoned and professional viewpoint. Zoghbi and Assi conducted several trials in various calligraphic styles, such as Naskh,Thuluth, Diwani, and Ruqaa, finally settling on the Diwani style. Zoghbi then reworked the logo, under the direction of the magazine’s designers Stephen Peaple and Florian Schubert, digitally transforming it into an open and continuous line with long ascenders, giving the overall image a resemblance to the oryx’s black stripes and long horns. The Al Maha/Oryx logotype carries the seeds of tradition transformed to meet the needs of contemporary branding design from the Arab world. It gracefully brings together the Arabic and Western scripts in a final harmonious cadence of the emblematic image.