We have seen a rise in the use of Arabic calligraphy in modern fashion designs including items such as dresses, scarves, jewelry, bags and the like. We have also seen artists mix Arabic calligraphy with other art such as the graffiti of Tunisia's eL Seed ’s amazing art spread around the world, showing the beauty of the Arabic text. Palestine's Belal Khaled has also followed in eL Seed’s footsteps but predominantly uses a permanent market to decorate cars, bags and even human bodies.

Modernizing the ways Arabic calligraphy is used seems to be an effective way of encouraging a generation of Arabs that have been heavily influenced by Western cultures to embrace their language again as a form of expressing themselves. Some are ashamed and formerly looked down upon using Arabic without inserting any foreign words. This, to them, indicated that they are well-educated and come from a well-off family. Therefore, using Arabic in modern art and fashion has a greater impact on identity and pride than what children in our region learn in their textbooks.

Ayah Aldeek, a Palestinian designer, has also chosen Arabic calligraphy to be a dominant aspect of her work. She designs portraits of people using only the Arabic letters of their names to form their facial features. Even the smallest details in the portraits are made with tiny Arabic letters that form the person’s name.

Ayah began her calligraphy project as she was brainstorming ideas for a birthday gift that she could present to her sister. She wanted to create something personalized and meaningful and began experimenting with her first portrait using Arabic calligraphy. The outcome was truly satisfying, and as she shared it on Facebook, her friends and family were amazed and began asking her to do their portraits as well.

Ayah has created over a hundred portraits so far and hopes that her project will help people embrace their language and appreciate its beauty both as an art and a means of expression. Here are a few samples of Ayah’s Arabic calligraphy portraits:

This is the first outcome of her work for her sister Fatima’s birthday


Here is a portrait titled "Asma"

Asma new

A portrait of a couple named Wafa and Tariq

Wafa and tariq

Details such as eyeglasses are also done with calligraphy!


This is a StepFeed Community post, written by a guest contributor. Lama Obeid originally posted this article on her blog . If you’re interested in contributing to the StepFeed Community, please contact hello@stepfeed.com.