Arabic calligraphy fascinates ZU students

By Huda Othman Al Sadi

Karim Jabbari discusses calligraphy with ZU students. (Photo by Huda Othman Al Sadi)

Karim Jabbari discusses calligraphy with ZU students. (Photo by Huda Othman Al Sadi)

ABU DHABI—The Zayed University-AUH Student Council organized two Arabic calligraphy workshops in the Promenade on Tuesday, March 26. The workshops featured Karim Jabbari, a Tunisian calligrapher who lives in Canada.

Arabic calligraphy is an ancient artistic craft that, while it is fading away in favor of other forms of art, has long been an important part of Arab and Islamic culture.

Calligraphy is an ornate type of writing that is done with a brush or broad-tip device, instead of a pen or pencil. Internationally, calligraphy goes back more than 2,500 years, and it has been important in the Islamic world for more than 1,000 years. In Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), calligraphy goes back 1,500 years.

At ZU, Mr. Jabbari remarked that his goal from the workshops was to showcase and represent the genuineness and beauty of Arabic calligraphy to a new generation of students.

Indeed, Mr. Jabbari carries on a noble mission.

“Today, there is reluctance towards Arabic language,” he said. “I started to train Arabic calligraphy but by employing new techniques to attract people to learn it.”

His mission to preserve Arabic fonts comes from his belief that “language is our history and our heritage and if we forget it, the whole world will forget us,” he said.

During the workshops, Mr. Jabbari introduced some of the ancient Arabic fonts. He then tutored the students through the basics of Arabic calligraphy: lines, points and curves.

Mr. Jabbari then trained the students on how to draw a few Arabic alphabets following the Moroccan calligraphy. Students apprehended it easily, and Mr. Jabbari expressed his admiration, saying that they are some of the “fastest learning girls.”

“It usually takes longer than an hour to learn the basics, but in less than 15 minutes they were able to do it,” he said.

The charm of calligraphy attracted Dana Shashaa, an environmental engineering graduate from California, to the art. Miss Shashaa said that her admiration of Arabic calligraphy motivated her to attend the workshops at ZU.

“I don’t draw, but it is easy and tempting to learn calligraphy,” Miss Shashaa said.

Fatima Al Braiki, an integrated strategic communication student, said she takes every opportunity to obtain new skills and widen her horizons. She thinks the on-campus activities and workshops are “either an addition to my skills or a start to new ones.”

Miss Al Braiki mentioned that she always wanted to launch an Arabic calligraphy club because of her fascination with art and “the workshops came just in time.”

Nuha Bin Ajjaj, a student in University College, participated in the workshop.

“It is very easy to learn, but I have to practice,” Miss Bin Ajjaj said.

Mr. Jabbari urged students to carry on practicing and offered his help to send calligraphy lessons to students via email.

“I will continue practicing, especially since Mr. Karim welcomed us to contact him anytime,” Miss Al Braiki said.

Anyone interested in Arabic calligraphy can contact Mr. Jabbari at the following email address:

Alternatively, you can visit his website for calligraphy lessons at the following URL:

Made from Words

A ZU student works on her calligraphy. (Photo by Huda Othman Al Sadi)

A ZU student works on her calligraphy. (Photo by Huda Othman Al Sadi)


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