29LT Zarid Serif type family consists of 16 styles, 8 Standard styles, and 8 Slanted styles, covering the following weights: Thin, Extra Light, Light, Regular, Medium, Semi Bold, Bold, and Black. The Arabic and the Latin mirror each other’s appearances much like fraternal twins with compatible attitudes.
The typeface includes advanced typographic features (ligatures, alternates and stylistic sets) that improve legibility and give diverse typesetting options. The fonts cover all Middle Eastern, North African, Eastern European, Central European, Western European, and North and South American Languages. The number of glyphs per font is 1550+.
“The word Zarid means strong, robust. And indeed, 29LT Zarid Arabic’s persona contains a robust arsenal of qualities and attitudes appropriate for countless monolingual or bilingual typographic concepts and visual explorations.” Extract from 29LT Zarid typeface review, written by Diane Mikhae, for “Typographica 2016 Favorite Fonts”.
29LT Zarid Serif Description
29LT Zarid Serif letterforms are drawn with extreme refinement and varying contrast between the light and heavy weights of the type-family. The letters in the light weights (Thin, Extra Light, Light, and Regular) are drawn in low contrast and smooth curves, while the letters in the heavy weights (Medium, Semi Bold, Bold and Black) are drawn in high contrast with crisp cuts and sharp pen strokes. The typeface is suitable for a vast array of literature and educational publications besides branding and design projects. Zarid Serif is a combination of an Arabic Naskh Mastari accompanied with a wedged serif Latin counterpart that makes it reliable for both content and display text. The slanted styles give the type family an added typographic voice for highlight or emphasis.
“As I peered at the details in the Thin, Extra Light, Light, and Regular weights, I noticed that the nib wedges found in the Bold weight were omitted, which makes the flow of the letters agiler. The low contrast of the letters’ components offers consistency and smooth connections. The formal qualities found in the Light weight greatly contribute to its legibility, which makes it suitable for publications and running text at small sizes.” Extract from 29LT Zarid typeface review, written by Diane Mikhael, for “Typographica 2016 Favorite Fonts”.
The standard styles retain a balance between calligraphic angular cuts and unadorned construction. The contrast in the letters was coupled with strong cuts and edges to give the font it vigorous attitude. The letterforms are inspired by calligraphic makeup but drawn with a modern-day feel. The Arabic ligatures and elongated stylistic sets give the typeface an added calligraphic characteristic. These were meant to provide the script’s robustness and activate its’ strong characteristic and serious attitude.
The slanted styles are redrawn based on fast hand-gestures and not merely slanted from the standard fonts. The stems are slanted while the counters are round and smooth. In the Arabic character set, the terminals are curvy with open-ended bowls and smooth baseline links. They are a set of free-spirited styles that can accompany the standard set for a change of text tone, or may stand alone as a casual copy text or delightful display text. The slanted styles in the Latin script are the cursive set of fonts that is known as “true-italics” which are based on a stylized form of quick calligraphic handwriting. The name “slanted” was adopted instead of “italic” for the inclined styles because in Arabic typography and calligraphy the term, italic, does not exist.
The design approach, with open counters, clean terminals/finials, balanced weight and high contrast, are all elements that bring the Arabic and Latin scripts together: No surprise, both scripts were created in synergy and were inspired from each other simultaneously. The Naskh Mastari calligraphic style of the Arabic is complemented by a calligraphic broad nip pen technique in the Latin, creating strong wedged serif Latin.
“29LT Zarid’s letterforms incorporate binary opposites. The family contains eight weights: letters with low contrast were drawn for the thin weights; those with high contrast, for the heavy weights. This cool dichotomy also appears in the quality of each letter’s strokes and angles, which gently merge the organic and fluid with the sharp and brusque. 29LT Zarid successfully intersects these elements with delicacy and courage. That’s what makes this typeface so unique and powerful, and what has earned 29LT Zarid a place in the library of truly contemporary Arabic typefaces for both display and text.” Extract from 29LT Zarid typeface review, written by Diane Mikhael, for “Typographica 2016 Favorite Fonts”.
29LT Zarid Serif Story
The story of Zarid Serif starts back in 2007 when the daily Dubai newspaper “Emirates Today” approached 29Letters to create and develop a new Arabic typeface for headlines and titles in their updated tabloid. The newspaper requested a modern and crisp font that would appeal to their newly targeted younger readers as well as be agreeable to their existing readers who were used to Naskh Mastari traditional fonts. A black display font was created covering the Arabic language for the newspaper. The font created back then, named “Imarat Headlines,” was an Arabic display font exclusively used by the newspaper from 2007 to 2014 when it was replaced by another typeface. For more than seven years, “Imarat Headlines” gave a unique image to “Emirates Today” before competing newspapers started adopting the same look and feel by producing similar alternates of it.
In 2014, 29LT started developing 29LT Zarid based on the “Imarat Headlines” font. The Arabic black letters got a contemporary design uplift by Pascal Zoghbi who also handled the development of the extended character set covering Farsi and Urdu languages. Additionally, a broad set of ligatures and stylistic sets were added to the font to give Zarid a strong calligraphic aspect while retaining its modern spirit.
After the fully extended Arabic character set was completed for the black weight, in 2015 Zoghbi approached the designer and colleague, Khajag Apelian, for the creation and development of the Latin counterpart of Zarid. The Arabic got revised while the Latin was in creation and refinements were undertaken on both scripts to make them come as close together as possible. A strong wedge serif Latin echoed a sturdy Arabic character set stemming from a thoughtful and bold attitude from both designers. From just a black weight, Zarid evolved into eight weights (Thin, Extra Light, Light, Regular, Medium, Semi Bold, Bold and Black) over a work frame of one year.
In 2017, the time came to think about what would be the best way to approach the “italic” version of the typeface. New design decisions were needed and a calligraphic and typographic research was undertaken. Type designer Jan Fromm from Berlin was approached to create the italic version of the Latin, while Pascal Zoghbi tackled the solution for the Arabic counterpart. Beside the development of the slanted style, Zarid becomes Zarid Serif and making it part of a bigger type-system including Zarid Sans, Zarid Slab, Zarid Text, Zarid Stencil, etc. The family will grow over the coming years.
It is hard to say how much time 29LT Zarid Serif took for the completion of its present status, and how long will it be until the full 29LT Zarid Type-System is complete. It has been 8 years since its inception as “Imarat Headlines” font in 2007; 3 years from the revamping of the black weight in 2014 by Zoghbi; 2 year since the joint efforts of both designers, Apelian and Zoghbi, in 2015 for the realization of the whole 8 weights covering all Middle Eastern, North African, Eastern European, Central European, Western European, North and South American languages; and 1 year since the revamping of the Zarid typeface to become Zarid Serif and the addition of the slanted styles in collaboration with Fromm. In 2018, 29LT Zarid Sans will be published, while the other Zarid typefaces follow in the future.