This was first done using symbols and shapes that later developed into letters, alphabets, and writing that represented different languages.
In turn, Arab speakers, devoted themselves to developing the Arabic language, in such a way that their letters and their shapes reflect the values of Arab and Islamic culture.
Over time, as the importance of the Arabic language grew, specialized art forms and calligraphy schools were established with innovative curricula and methods for teaching Arabic calligraphy, art forms, and techniques, such as:
The Soft technique:
This is a softly flowing form of calligraphy using specialized scripting quills and reeds. Fonts in this style include Thuluth, Naskh, Ruqaa, Diwani, and Ta'liq among others.
The Angular Technique:
This technique has many names, including qasi (sharp) and mizwi (angular), and depends on formal styles of writing. Fonts that fall under this category include Kufic, Muzakhraf, Muzher, and Ayoubi, among others. It was widely used in writing the first Qur’an, coining money, and decorating mosques and buildings.
Arabic Calligraphy Tools:
Arabic calligraphy tools include reed and wooden quills with a shaped tip, which are dipped in maddad (ink). Some quills are made of bamboo, others from ostrich and other feathers, chalk, limestone and even hedgehog quills.
Widely used Types of Arabic Calligraphy:
Writing is the main way for human beings to express themselves and document ideas and events. Arabic calligraphy is a type of art, incorporating design and decorative writing. It can be defined as an artistic practice of manual calligraphy using Arabic letters that are inter-connected when forming words. The letters take on an engineered form that varies from one font to another depending on the strokes, length, connections, and other elements of the writing.
First: Traditional Arabic Fonts
These are inherited linear patterns, and they are of two main types:
1. Kufic Script:
This is a geometric script with straight letters and predominantly vertical and horizontal lines and many right angles. It became famous in the Iraqi city of Kufa. This font was the most commonly used one in writing the Qur’an. There are several different types of Kufic fonts, including the Simplified, Ornate, Framed, Decorative, Intertwined, Interlinked, Geometric, Angular or "Square", and Architectural versions.
2. Naskh Script
This is a more curved script. It was given this name because it was widely used for copying texts and books and was utilised in place of the Kufic script in copying and producing copies of the Qur’an. Different types include Naskhi, Thulth, Ijaza or ‘Signature", Raqaa, Diwani, Ghubari, Muthanna, and Persian fonts:
Second: Modern Arabic Fonts
Many other types of fonts have emerged recently in different forms and shapes to meet changing needs. This is normal with the development of new means of communication. While many new fonts have made an appearance, many older ones have also been changed and modified, especially those used for book covers, commercial and official names, advertising, newsprint, posters, and so forth.
All these fonts broke away from the traditional styles and became known as "free style fonts". Nevertheless, these fonts do adhere to their own rules in order to maintain consistency.
The UAE’s Interest in Arabic Calligraphy
The United Arab Emirates has taken an interest in the art of Arabic calligraphy as part of its involvement in the cultural and artistic renaissance taking place. The country has hosted many local and international exhibitions and festivals for all the arts, particularly the art of Arabic calligraphy. This has encouraged new developments and innovations in calligraphy and other arts. By so doing, the UAE has provided the formative arts, including the art of calligraphy, with a prominent place globally, and positioned itself as a destination for creatives, artists, and calligraphers from all over the world.
Since its early beginnings with the founding of the Cultural Foundation, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi has endeavoured to support the art of Arabic calligraphy as an expressive and aesthetic creative tool. It has done so by organising events and activities that encourage development in the field, as well as by establishing a dedicated department for teaching the art. The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development has sponsored major calligraphy awards, such as the Al Burda Award, in which many calligraphers and artists from around the world have participated.
Additionally, the Emirates Fine Arts Society in Sharjah (founded in 1990, with the support of the Departments of Culture and Arts in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai) published the first issue of Al-Khattat Magazine in 1991. In 2000 the Cultural and Scientific Association in Dubai issued the Huroof Arabiya Magazine.
Annual Islamic Art fairs, festivals and forums are also held in Sharjah and Dubai on a yearly basis to help preserve this art.