Noor Typeis a simplified, hybrid Kufi/Naskh type family in three weights, light, regular, and bold. Its contemporary outlines reflect the new branding strategy for the Noor Bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) developed by Wolff Olins, the brand consultancy, in Dubai.
Formerly known as the Noor Islamic Bank, in the past the Noor bank had a traditional brand identity with an old, serif-style type for Latin characters and traditional Kufic type for Arabic characters. Wolff Olins wanted to uplift their branding and give the bank a contemporary visual identity. They replaced the old style serif font by the modern sans serif “Aktiv Grotesk” type, and asked me to create and develop the Arabic counterpart.
I designed the Arabic with large tooth, loop, and eye height to echo the large x-height of the Latin, with short ascenders and cut descenders for the Jeem, Ha’, Kha’, Ain, Ghain, and Meem. To allow such proportions to exist and keep the Arabic looking proper and not Latinized, I drew the letters based on a hybrid structure between the Kufic and Naskh scripts instead of just adopting one style of proportions.
Since the word-mark doesn’t have an icon, the typeface is the solitary graphical element to distinguish the bank. We decided to make an edgy cut in the Arabic letters that contains loops like “Waw, Qaf, Ha’, Ta’, etc. and give the font an open fill and contemporary characteristic. Thus the font is both edgy and organic, containing straight pen stokes that are in balance with curved outlines. The tension between the straight and curved lines gives the font unique properties with contemporary appearance.
Beside the logotype, Noor type is used in all the bank’s branding and advertising. You can also see the font at the “Noor Bank Metro Station” in Dubai along with all the bank’s branches in the Arab region.
When setting up to establish 29LT digital type foundry in 2013, Lebanese designer and educator Pascal Zoghbi aspired to explore the diversity and potential of the Arabic script. Zoghbi envisioned 29LT with a cross-cultural approach. Having evolved, studied and worked in a multicultural and largely bilingual environment, he embraced multilingualism. Coming into contact with more than one language in his everyday life, he has developed an exceptional ability to think global and to reflect the various technical, conventional, and cultural writing systems into his work. Accordingly, he has excelled in creating innovative, high-quality contemporary multiscript type families, each of which is unique in its design approach and responds to regional and international market needs. Staying true to his culture, he worked on turning traditional Arabic script into contemporary type. Always on the lookout for new ideas and harmony between scripts, he explores various tools and techniques and regularly partners with a team of professional designers specialized in specific scripts to create multiscript typography.
Not only is he heavily involved in the practice of Arabic type design and typography, but he has also contributed to the field as an educator. Between 2007 and 2017, he taught at various design schools in Lebanon (American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, and Notre Dame University) and in the UAE (American University of Sharjah). Besides lecturing at universities, he takes part in a range of design events worldwide and provides trainings and workshops on Arabic typography at universities, conferences, and agencies.
Zoghbi has gained an international reputation for his work and has received throughout his professional career prestigious design awards and honors, such as TDC Typographic Excellence, Granshan, AIGA, and was nominated to Jameel Prize 3. His work encompasses an outstanding collection of contemporary Arabic and multilingual typefaces. He co-authored and edited the “Arabic Graffiti” book published in 2010.
Zoghbi started his academic journey at Notre Dame University in Lebanon where he grew interest in Arabic typography. He further developed his type design skills at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK), the Netherlands, where he obtained in 2006 a Master of Design in Type & Media.
In 2018, he relocated to Madrid where he is currently based. Since then, his interest in a vast number of Spanish historical and cultural topics, especially those that showcase the merging of Arabic and Spanish cultures, grew keener. 29LT expanded accordingly, shifting from supporting only Arabic and Latin scripts to a global multiscript approach tapping into other world scripts.
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