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Showcase Of Web Design In The Arab World

Sand, magic carpets, Islamic art, Mecca, turban, luxury, camels, incense, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, arabesque art and cous cous are just a few of the images that spring to mind when thinking Arab world. But there is actually a misconception of what is the ‘Arab world’. Most often the ‘Arab world’ is thought of as solely the Middle East. The Middle East however is only the geographical area defined by the lands between Egypt and south-west Asia. The Arab world is much much larger. The geographical expanse of the Arab world reaches far wider when it is correctly defined by countries which are Arabic speaking.

That is to say, the Arabic language is the defining element of the ‘Arab world’. In total, the Arab world includes 25 countries and territories with a combined population of more than 358 million. This expanse stretches from the west coast of northern Africa (Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria etc) across to Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.

The history of this expansive region is so deep that it is foolhardy to skim over how the past has influenced art and hence inspired, to a degree, modern web design. For example, Islam, the predominant religion of the Arab world, laid the ground stones for Islamic Art1. One of the major reasons that Islamic art is rich in patterns and ‘arabesque’ repetition of forms such as geometrical floral designs is because it is feared by many Muslims that the depiction of the human form is idolatry and thereby a sin against Allah, forbidden in the Qur’an.

This denial of figurative art made way for powerful Arabic calligraphy and abstract depictions. Major outlets for artistic expression can be found in architecture, Arabic scripts, paintings and ceramics where intricate patterns adorn.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

So Old Yet So Very Young Link

A wealth of history but web design still ‘immature’ Link

With this wealth of calligraphic design for inspiration and the unity of the Arabic language defining the Arab world, one would assume that strong typographic design in the Arab web design world is abundant and advanced. But on the contrary. One sad reality about this rich script-based culture is that the web has failed to deliver enough support for Arabic fonts. That is until recent advances in Internet browser support. There are reportedly very few trusted and faithful fonts that allow for really beautiful typographical-based Arabic web designs. Tahoma is the number-one used font – it is available in Latin and Arabic.

Historical inspiration: Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts. (Picture: Wikipedia).

So what has then probably most profoundly inspired, but at the same time flummoxed, modern web design in the Arab world is the calligraphic Arabic writing system. Some of our interviewees below impressed the fact that typography for Arab web design is very much Latin-based and the design industry is still very immature. But they are optimistic the latest advances in browsing tools and standards will open the flood gates to more Arabic-based sites.

Quick Overview of Web Design in the Arab World? Link

When exploring the characteristics of Arabic web design one will find several aspects that make it unique. From the beautiful resources that inspire the designer to the scrolling calligraphy, web design in the Arab world very much has a brand of its own. Below are some interesting points concerning Arabic web design.

  • While there are some websites that follow CSS standards, Flash is still “considered the default” option for many commercial web design companies.
  • The web is still transitioning from being thought of as an ‘interactive TV’: “clients will project their expectations from the TV medium onto the web which is a process that destroys any hope of creating a usable website”.
  • On most international websites Arabic is the secondary language, especially on company and conference websites.
  • Professional Arab websites generally have the extra effort of offering bi-lingual publishing – English and Arabic.
  • Freelancing in the Arab world is not generally considered a good way to make a living.
  • While cost is a major concern for clients around the globe, Arabic web designers report focusing on usability and standards first while improving costs.
  • One of the most important influences of Arabic designs is arabesque (repetition of forms and patterns) and the various kinds of calligraphy.
  • The Arab world is made of 25 countries and territories, and has a combined population of more than 358 million people. Due to this large area and high numbers income varies greatly from one designer to another.
  • There are reportedly very few design schools and design events.

The State Of Affairs Link

We have asked web designers from various locations within the Arab world a series of 10 questions.

We would like to thank the following for participating in our article:

  • Fatma Alemadi of Fatma Studio7, Qatar
  • Fouad Badawy of Mo3aser8, Egypt
  • Jennifer Haddad of jennifer Studio, Lebanon
  • Ahmed Chergaoui and Younes Qassimi of Synergie Media9, Morocco
  • Karim Tarek of Karim’s Portfolio, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • Ghaida Zahran of Ghaida Studio10, Saudi Arabia

Question 1 Link

Could you please describe the life of a freelancer, developer and designer in Arab countries? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: Where I live freelancing is not a common thing. As a mother I’m very selective. I work on a few projects a year because of lack of time. I’ve discussed this with some other fellow designers and developers and I think chances in achieving a stable financial life as a freelancer in the Arab world are very weak. Web design is still a relatively new market, but I’m very optimistic that the market will boom and within few years this can be changed.

Madeforbeirut Design Agency12

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: The way the society in the Arab countries view freelancing is still immature. If he/she works at home all day long on his/her computer, according to Arab societal thinking, this is not a job that can make a living. But because of the lack of suitable job opportunities for young people, many of them are starting to tend to work as a freelancer over the Internet.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: From experience with freelancing life in Lebanon, it can’t be a reliable and only source of income for the designer or developer. It very much depends on the clients a freelancer has, connections and reputation. It’s a life with two faces: on the good side, you have freedom, since no one is being the manager more limiting the creativity, other than the client; and on the bad side, you have the instability.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: Most of Moroccan web designers and developers are young (16-30 years old) and have less experience compared to Europe and North America. However, they’ve proved by many occasion that they’re eager to learn more.  In many cases, the client doesn’t measure the full potential of Internet. Therefore, the designer/developer deploys more efforts in educating the client rather than building the website. The process takes more time. Some Arab businesses tend to favour dealing with European agencies than trusting young local talents. That leaves us sometimes with the feeling that local designers/developers aren’t considered at their fair value.

Karim Tarek, UAE: I don’t really work as a full-time freelancer, but I think each of us have our own way of doing things and planning. Generally, I don’t think the life of a freelancer in the Arab countries should be different from any other freelancer in the world, but it is really hard to survive as a freelancer in the Middle East.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: I’m currently working fulltime with Rayat Brands13 and freelanced for only a short while after I graduated. It’s very difficult to get started as a freelancer here in Saudi Arabia. Clients prefer to work with established agencies rather than individual freelancers because it is assumed that if you were skilled enough you would be employed at an agency. Being a freelancer means you are the CEO, Creative Director, Client Servicing, Accountant, and Designer all in one, and requires masterful time management, and the requirements for a successful freelancer in Arab countries is the same as those in the US and Western Europe. The challenge is greater however, because of a lack of local support communities and resources and tools.

Question 2 Link

Are there any regular meetings or events? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: Very few.

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: Big technical activities and events are very limited in the Arab region, but with the combination of the following: spread of information technology; growing numbers of companies working in this field; and, young people interested in learning more in this area, the situation improves gradually. Small activities and events organized by youth groups and small technical groups have begun to spread in recent years.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: I’ve never heard of any official freelance meeting or events, so, as far as i know they don’t take place. But usually I and fellow designers sit and discuss design topics during our informal gatherings.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: There is not yet a main event that brings together Arabic freelancers, developers and designers from Arab countries. We mostly meet in European/American Events. In Morocco, the only event that brings together Moroccan freelancers, developers and designers is the Maroc Blog Awards, an event that rewards the best social media actors from Morocco.

Karim Tarek, UAE: I heard about the “Submit Conference14” –  it is for entrepreneurs and professionals involved in the Internet industry in the Middle East, focused on many aspects of Web applications, like technology, marketing, design and entrepreneurship. That is the only one I’ve heard of. Maybe there are others but I think they don’t promote and market it enough.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: There are no regular meetings for freelancers. Saudi Arabia is a very private society in that regard but the situation is getting better. A few years ago a local artist group in Jeddah, that met on deviantArt, formed the Jeddah Urban Artists and we had our first exhibit as a group in 2006. There is also a more active group, Riyadh Geeks11215, which meets regularly in Riyadh and is centered more around technology and software/web development than design.

Question 3 Link

Are there any significant differences between Web designing in Arab countries and and ones in the US and Western Europe? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: I think the communities in the US and/or Europe are more active, but that doesn’t mean that we are left far behind. Also, with the Internet I don’t think we can separate designers according to their regions. A lot of Arab designers who I know are already working in international markets selling their products and work around the Internet .

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: There are no significant differences in web design techniques in the Arab region than anywhere else. Any difference is due only to the perceptions and demands of clients which vary from project to project and client to client.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: Yes there is. The mentality of the clients and users in the US and western Europe is different. They are up to taking challenges and don’t set limitations to creating creative designs. This is a big problem in the Arab world especially KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] and sometimes in Dubai and Bahrain. The web design standards for such countries is totally different – they don’t care about the user experience nor if the website they are requesting is accessible to users or if the website reflects the line of work of the business. They have standards that in most cases don’t follow the worldwide trends in design because they are not well involved in the new innovations and evolution in web design.


Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: Arabic is written from right to left. That means that many websites need to be redesigned to have an optimized website in terms of usability. Also the coding scheme is different, more design elements are added because Arabic characters are shorter and wider than Latin characters. This gives a different visual appearance to the website.

Karim Tarek, UAE: Yes I think so. Web design in Arab countries doesn’t have an identity yet unlike US and Europe.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: Web design in Arab countries is sorely behind that in the US and Western Europe. Extensive and inappropriate use of flash, nested tables for layout, and non-standard markup plague Arabic websites. Unfortunately the web is viewed as ‘interactive TV’ rather than a medium all of its own, and clients will project their expectations from the TV medium onto the web which is a process that destroys any hope of creating a usable website. Flash is considered the ‘default’ medium for commercial web design, and this leads to great user frustration because internet speeds in Arab countries are much slower than those abroad. For example, here in Saudi Arabia, the fastest speed you can subscribe to is 20 MB, and the cost is unjustifiably great. The trick is to manage client expectations and produce a website that will both “wow” the client and remain usable.

Question 4 Link

Where do you get inspiration from? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: I get most of my inspiration from the design community. I read design blogs and visit css and design galleries. I’m also inspired by other forms of art like photography, decor and fashion. I love colors so anything with colors gets my attention.

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: The Arab region as an environment is very rich with wonderful places and resources that are good sources for inspiration. This is reflected in some designers’ works, however the main sources – considered as the easier – are the different images spread on the various photo sharing web sites, tracking CSS exhibits and keeping track of the work of other designers.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: Everywhere, especially online. I always do research online – read design blogs, & books. Inspiration isn’t achieved from one place in particular for me. Sometimes I get inspired from looking at something that is in no way related to the project I’m working on.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: Websites like,, Web design galleries such as,, Design related blogs & portals :,,,, Arabic Calligraphy.

Karim Tarek, UAE:, and searching google.

Wael Saad19

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: I get inspiration from showcase websites such as Best Web Gallery and CSSRemix. I enjoy browsing dribbble for general design inspiration. Video games are a great inspiration for me personally because they have such rich interfaces. I also seek inspiration away from the computer, elevators, television sets, and even non-electronic objects that we interact with daily.

Question 5 Link

What’s the situation on the market? How much do designers earn? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: It really depends.We are talking about a lot of countries with a variety of incomes. According to where I live, some people in other Arab countries will think that I have high prices but for people in my country and countries around me my prices can be fair.


Fouad Badawy, Egypt: When you talk about the Arab region, you are talking about 25 countries/territories that have various living standards. But let me talk about Egypt and the Arab Gulf states, where most of my work is concentrated – the cost of a medium-sized project starts from 400 dollars and up to 1000 dollars.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: It differs based on the client, the project and the reputation of the designer. You have clients that are willing to pay a fair amount for the work of a freelancer and some who think that since they are working with a freelancer, the prices should be low – usually the price expectations are really low. The rate starts of at ~$300 for the price of a static homepage.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: The market is still immature. The designers are mainly autodidact and young. We don’t have enough design schools in Morocco. Estimations vary a lot from a region to another; a designer charges by the day, and it’s approximately $200.

Karim Tarek, UAE: This is a tough question, I think each country is a different story. Currently I live and work in UAE. All the companies in the market are mostly foreign companies. It is really rare to find a pure Arabic company and if you were lucky to find one mostly they lack quality, I’m not sure of how much web designers earn but I know that building a website in UAE costs a lot. I would expect that a full-time web designer would get from 10.000 to 25.000 AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham) based on experience, talent, creativity, company and how lucky he/she is.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: Income varies greatly from one designer to another; but the average basic salary for a fresh graduate in Saudi Arabia for example is about 4,000 Saudi Riyals which is about 12,800 USD a year. The variation begins as experience increases and designers with a few years of experience under their belts can earn anywhere from 22,000 USD to 50,000 USD a year.

Question 6 Link

How do you see the status quo of Web design in Arab countries? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: If the web design in the Arab world was a human, I would say we are in the “teenage” stage and hopefully this teenage boy/girl will grow up to be a smart and successful adult soon – God willing (as we say in Arabic).

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: Web design in the Arab region is still in its early stages and the Arab production over Internet is small compared to the number of Arabic sites and the number of users. But, with an increasing number of young designers who have creative ideas and have a desire to keep up with everything new in this area, it is improving well.

Colors Lab

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: It is evolving. Web design is totally different from they way it was when I started working three years ago. Clients are more open to the trends and breakthroughs in web design. They are more involved in the Internet world. Websites produced have a more professional international look but still you have a fair percentage of clients who still live in a nutshell and don’t like outside-the-box ideas. The good thing is that the percentage of these clients is decreasing each year, more and more.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: More than 75% of Arab Internet users are under 35. They heavily use social platforms like Facebook and MSN and play a lot of online games. Arabic websites that have a large traffic focus a lot on content and tend to neglect the design part.

Karim Tarek, UAE: Web design in the Arab countries needs a lot of improvement, which in turn needs a lot of effort from individuals like web designers or web developers plus companies. Though, I don’t think in our countries people have the luxury of doing open source projects or writing high quality articles – every one is busy make a living. Life is hard here.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: Currently “advanced” web design is considered anything that is heavy on animation. Flash is the de facto medium for websites, however more clients are beginning to understand the drawbacks to relying heavily on Flash.

Question 7 Link

Are there any patterns of usability or rules of thumb that are typical of Arabic design? Are the standards of Web design in Arab countries changing? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: People are so crazy about Discussion Boards. Sometimes I think that every kid in my neighborhood has his/her own board. When we first had the Internet years ago people knew the Internet as a place to have freedom of speech through boards, places to say things that they can’t say anywhere else due to regimes in some Arab countries. This is starting to change – but slowly. Also, because some technologies don’t support Arab language except in their later versions we are left behind unable to use this technology until Arabic is supported. And if you think that working with your site design for cross browsing is hard, try right to left design where browsers act strange sometimes and IE bugs are more and harder to solve.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: Yes there are patterns of usability that are usually followed but these are not official standards. Unlike web design in English there are no international standards that all English websites somehow follow. Still, the Arabic language in web design is underestimated and not treated the way it’s supposed to be. It is becoming somehow a secondary website language when in reality it should be the primary language that should be treated initially while designing a website. Usually each country has it’s separate guidelines that should be followed, for example, Dubai Government has that. They have there own set of guidelines and rules that should be applied to all websites designed for the Government of Dubai.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: Perhaps the most important thing to take into consideration is culture. Sometimes designs are rejected because they contain elements that may be considered as inappropriate or shameful. So rule number one: be aware of the cultural specificities of the region you’re designing for.

Karim Tarek, UAE: With respect to usability, there is no difference between an English design and Arabic design – same rules apply. The web standards in Arab countries should be the same like the international ones and I believe it is changing every day, but not every one follows the latest standards As an example you still find websites using tables to build the structure of the web page, so standards are the same but are we making use of it?


Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: It would seem that a lot of the web design in Arab countries seems to be stuck in the 90s. This however is slowly changing as talented designers are beginning to observe usability principles and web standards more and also as the web is becoming more of a tool than the entertainment medium people assumed it was years ago.

Question 8 Link

And how does all of this work? Is the situation currently good or difficult? Do most customers want to have English-speaking or Arabic-speaking sites? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: Most companies want to have two languages, Arabic and English, so in most cases you have to work twice with a lot of the design aspects. For blogs and more personal sites it’s mostly one language Arab or English.

Ahmed Zahran’s Portfolio

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: This depends on the type of client. Most companies and organizations request that they should have their site in both Arabic and English, and others are in English only. However the sites of individuals should often be in Arabic only and are directed mostly to the Arab user only.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: Unfortunately the Arabic speaking sites are treated as a secondary language in most of the websites. The number of websites which cater first for the Arabic style are somehow rare. Arab countries have come far and evolved when it comes to website design and styles. Still, we need to grow a lot to become like the US and European countries.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: The main projects in Arabic are currently government and institutional projects. Many Arab businesses appear to search more in English or French than in Arabic and prefer to have English-speaking or French-speaking sites. As the Arab world gets more and more connected to the web, I think more Arabic-speaking sites will be created.

Karim Tarek, UAE: In my opinion the situation is bad :), Mostly clients ask for both, though top priority is for the English websites and some clients don’t even care to have an Arabic website – English will do.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: The situation is difficult and like any transition it is challenging but ultimately inevitable. People are beginning to look to the Internet for more than simply looking up a company’s brochure website, but they are starting to see its potential as a valuable tool as well. Thus more web applications such as Qaym24 and 3aish Jobs are being developed. English speaking websites seem to be the default request by clients as well, even though user demand is great for Arabic websites.

Question 9 Link

How do Arab designers handle typography? Are any font embedding techniques widely used? Is the choice of available fonts big? How vivid is, in your opinion, typography in Arabic web design? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: There are a good number of Arab fonts, while still mainly three are widely used. The font most used by designers is Tahoma which looks lovely on windows and loses its lovely curvy look on Mac – still I prefer it for smaller text. Most CSS styling techniques are designed for English (Latin) letter so applying them to Arabic text can make the texts looks funny sometimes :). Font embedding technique doesn’t work well with Arabic fonts so this is not used yet. Hopefully we can find a solution for this soon or maybe someone already came up with one and I don’t know :)

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: As an Arab designer i am usually afraid from the Arabic language and it’s a challenge to be able to design a website that looks good and user friendly in Arabic. But it’s a challenge I’m getting good at since the type of projects i work on are 90 % Arabic websites. The fonts used on the web for Arabic are unfortunately still limited to the default Ariel, Verdana, Tahoma and most of the time the font used is Tahoma because it is the most legible on the web. Arabic typography should start to take its rightful place in the web design world. It’s a nice language and it’s our main language in the Arab world. If we don’t treat the language as important and revive it no one else will.

Dubai Media Incorporated26

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: Based on the sites we designed in Arabic, typography is often limited to the list of fonts already existing on the operating systems. It’s mainly due to the lack of typographic variety. A small example describing this : the number of Arabic font families existing in Linotype directory (, compared to the number of sans-serif font families ( – 784 versus 40! Font embedding is not very popular. Solutions like Typekit doesn’t yet offer Arabic fonts. That being said, we think it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be able to deliver custom types in websites using these technologies.

Typography is progressing & there’s some high quality type designers, such as Nadine Chahine29, who designed the Arabic versions of well known fonts (helveticaneue, frutiger, palatino, etc..)

Karim Tarek, UAE: As to my knowledge there is no font replacement technology like Cufon or sIFR which supports Arabic, so we just use system fonts which makes the Arabic web layouts much less pleasant than the English one. As for fonts, Arabic fonts are extremely expensive and free ones are hard to find.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: The state of Arabic typography on the web is dismal. This makes designing websites in Arabic a gamble, because you could never tell how the website will look on different users’ computers, the short-term solution for this is to use background images for text, which of course is a usability nightmare and many developers simply ignore the issue and hope for the best. There needs to be a standard set of Arabic typefaces that are available on every operating system, the equivalent to Georgia, Arial, etc. in English.

Question 10 Link

What makes an outstanding design agency in Arab countries? Link

Fatma Alemadi, Qatar: Sometimes creativity and individuality … and mostly connections.

Arabic Rhymes

Fouad Badawy, Egypt: The appropriate prices or the low prices sometimes! Quality of work, quick response to customer requests as well as a Portfolio that contains good-level work. All these factors increase the success and spread of companies at least at the level of individual customers.

Jennifer Haddad, Lebanon: An agency that cares about quality not quantity. An agency that caters for user experience and stay up to date with the design trends and create its own trends. An agency that works on a variety of projects not just one specific type of project. An agency that has and gives good consultancy service to the client and somehow is able, through that, to influence the client in a good way. Finally, an agency that has the right project cycle and treats the project with care and gives it its rightful time to be finished.

Chergaoui and Qassimi, Morocco: Web designs in Arab countries are primarily intended for a particular culture or nation rather than the World Wide Web. Thus, local expertise is the key! The one who thinks big, works hard and overcomes regional challenges will surely succeed.

Karim Tarek, UAE: A team of passionate people who want to do their own thing instead of follow others and selling crap.

Ghaida Zahran, Saudi Arabia: I would say the same qualities that make any design agency outstanding; matching client expectations with user expectations by creating websites that are both usable and attractive.

Selection of Web Designs from the Arab World Link


Maghribi Style design agency












Integrated Wood40



Twofour 5442


Wissam Shawkat Studio44


Bait Alherafieen

Makan House46


Qas w Lasq













Jordan Pioneers60





Pierre Katra64


Media Plus66


Sabeel Water68


Atelier White70


Hair Code World

Children’s Museum72


Nahfat Ailetna

Aljazeera Children74


Saudi Aramco World76


Hyper Stage78


Bonnon Coffee80


Nina Kreidie Portfolio


Beshoy Designs82


Leather Export

Saad Creative


The Tamz84






Al Aali Complex90





Qasr Alsarab94






Suhib 5

Jack Of Art

Blogs Link

Events Link

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Footnotes Link

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Otba Mushaweh is Logo Design Specialist and blogger, He is the Founder and editor-in-chief of Logo Talks which is a platform and resource for designers, students and everyone who interested in all about logo design, brands and typography. He is also freelances under his business Logos Guide Studio.

  1. 1

    Very interesting post, thank you. I’ve been a graphic and later web designer in Egypt since 1993 and I would just like to add an important point that I think wasn’t emphasized. Mainly, that the shear lack of design training and schooling has had a huge impact on the immaturity of both graphic and web design in the Arab countries. After all, web design is first and foremost about DESIGN and usually those who enter the field here are youngsters who are interested in computers, the internet, or at best, illustration. Usually, they have no design training and without this important basis are often compelled to copy rather than re-invent. It is unfortunate that with such a rich heritage in design (Islamic art is all about design) we have not been able to pass on this beautiful tradition to future generations. I hope this will change, and from what I’ve seen in this post, I think there is hope! :)

  2. 2

    Arab world sucks and so does their ability to create compelling web sites. They should put a ‘burkha” over their designs. What a waste.

  3. 8

    Rupnarayan Bhattacharya

    September 19, 2010 10:54 am

    Very useful article. I have worked in number of Arabic web design project and my experience is mixed. The Arabic typography is a real headache to implement. Very truly flash is still considered as the main medium for web design.

  4. 9

    What is really interesting about the arab designs is you can distinguish their work right away once you see them. Many designers were inspired by the Arabic Calligraphy and Islamic Architecture that affected a lot of cultures worldwide.
    That’s a nice post Otba, good job :)

  5. 10

    I think its time for Turkey now :)

  6. 13

    I really like the art in the footer of ‘Maghribi Style design agency’ and the website TheTamz.

  7. 14

    Tahoma Arabic really is an excellent font. I don’t know what it looks like on a Mac but on Windows, it’s a really elegant font.

    Typography is the main headache with Arabic-language sites. The Arabic equivalents of Times New Roman and Arial are really ugly (beyond belief).

    One thing that needs to be noted though, is that the variation within the Arab world is also important. Lebanon is probably at the forefront of graphic and web design though the Gulf countries are making their own impact, as does Egypt (being the most populous country in the region). All of these countries have had a different impact on design trends, reflecting their different histories and economies (Lebanon is heavily influenced by French culture). These differences will very soon be as important as the differences, as the industry develops and matures.

  8. 15

    Abdulrahman Alotaiba

    September 19, 2010 11:56 am

    Great post Otba, great showcase of beautiful sites from the Arab world. We can see great designs, even with the challenges that face the Arab designers, especially web typography and RTL layout. One can hope that those challenges will be fading away as the web browsers advance.

  9. 16

    “An agency that cares about quality not quantity. An agency that caters for user experience and stay up to date with the design trends and create its own trends. An agency that works on a variety of projects not just one specific type of project. An agency that has and gives good consultancy service to the client and somehow is able, through that, to influence the client in a good way. Finally, an agency that has the right project cycle and treats the project with care and gives it its rightful time to be finished.”

    Well Done Jennifer Haddad. this is the most important part in this article. Nice article Otba.

  10. 17

    just loved this… Islamic art is very unique and has lots of attraction…

  11. 18

    Checked most of the websites, very impressive!
    I’ve noticed that most of the featured websites are done by Media Plus Jordan, seems like a kick-ass company! good job

  12. 19

    wow! Very nice article, I’ve been waiting for this one.

    I would have liked to see my website ( mentioned. Not the most beautiful website, but very popular and one of a kind in the Arab world.


  13. 22

    wow. Some really amazing designs and we see that they have a culture for colors. We try sometimes to make everything light and they take the advantage of the colors. I really appreciated this post.

  14. 23

    I always thought that the only problem with Arabic web design is the typography. Arabic typefaces relay a lot on curves and computer fonts designers and system engineers never got that right, there is a huge difference between a handwriting and modern computer fonts which is very ugly in my opinion.

    But today i stumbled upon new open source font called Amiri which i think has a potential cause it looks very good and still under development i hope the keep working on it.

    But this so true “A wealth of history but web design still ‘immature’”

  15. 24

    OOOH . I’m in :) .. so happy for that .. i have to say that there is a lot of competitive designs .. very impressive

  16. 26

    I’ve been looking forward to this. There is some truly great design work here. Great job, Otba, and thanks for the feature :D

  17. 27

    Most of them look like “it’s 1997 again”. Sorry guys. I love your typography (apparently not the web typography), I appreciate your effort… but…

    Secondly what does it mean “Arab World Design”? It sounds kinda offensive (for arabs of course). In “Arab World” there are many different countries. So why treat ’em like one big ghetto? Let’s talk about design in Turkey or Iran or Emirates. When we mention web design in say… Poland or Russia why don’t we name them “Christian (or Slavic) World”?

    • 28

      We are very separated yet very connected. We are supposed to by one country but we were separated at some point by our laziness and some peoples hard work ..

    • 29

      what are you talking about? the title of the article is not about islamic World wouldn’t have problem if the title was european designs so what’s the problem with arab world design?

      • 30

        I know what I’m talking about .. the language connects us ..and I haven’t said anything about Islam ..You seem to have a lot of anger inside you …

    • 31

      In Turkey we use latin alphabet so we’re not a part of the Arab world except the people living here are Muslim (but Turkey is a secular state). Iran is very different too, because they speak Persian. So don’t treat Middle East like one big country.

      And Arabic is the language spoken in the Arab world, which has a huge impact on their culture. That’s a very big connecting point.

    • 32

      I agree with you, I heard that from a Morrocan friend 20 years ago, there is no such thing as a world of Arabs, or union of Arabs they just force them self to be in one since the 50’s ? it will be very interessting to see Web Digital Art from Morocco, Egypt, …

  18. 33

    Abdurrahman Gemei

    September 19, 2010 2:21 pm

    I wondered whether the post would be about Arabic language websites or just websites with Arabic and Islamic design elements. I think the focus should be on well-designed Arabic language websites because what makes progress on the Arabic web slower is how effective this language is communicated across the web, which is a blur IMO, seeing the current condition of the Arabic web.

    Thanks for the mention of Musamem. Soon enough we’ll see more effective and beautiful Arabic websites as the Arabic web matures.

  19. 34

    Anthony Alexander

    September 19, 2010 3:06 pm

    This article is borderline racist. But I’ll act like it’s a blonde who said something distasteful at a dinner party and continue staring at your boobs. Apart from the chicken scratch, they seem to be into web x.x, i.e. huge ass text and 4MB backgrounds like everyone else. What am I missing?

    • 35

      Appreciating another culture’s aesthetics and showcasing excellent examples is the exact opposite of racism… do yourself a favor and buy a dictionary.

      What you are missing is an open mind.

  20. 36

    No love for Mahmoud Khaled?


  21. 37

    Amazing and good showcase, check out for more from the arab world:

  22. 38

    Proud to be arab :)
    Nice showcase, and i really like the interviews

  23. 39

    Thanks Otba for interviewing me I’m beyond honored and thanks SM for finally showcasing arab design …

  24. 40

    it’s time for turkey :)

  25. 42

    Hello, you have a web design section in Arab world, China, …
    Where is Web design in India?
    I am not a design guy, but after reading this article, I am interested in web design in India.
    Thank you for your upcoming article based on India.

  26. 43

    Would very much want to see how the Indian webdesign is seen from the perspective of web designers around the globe.

  27. 44

    You can find most of the above websites showcased here:

  28. 45

    Congratulations SM for this great article. I would also like to thank Fatma, Fouad, Jennifer, Ahmed, Karim and Ghaida for their contribution. You’re doing some great work!
    Sad conclusion but very true: We have a rich history but a poor presence on Internet. Let’s do something about it!

    • 46

      Totally agree with your conclusion Younes, and I’m hoping to be part in the future improvements

    • 47

      it’s all about clients cause there are a lot of creative designers, waiting for the projects to show there competences

  29. 48

    Time for Turkey!

  30. 49

    There was to imagine. When it was all Western European capitalist,
    decant and exalt any type of graphics (quite discreet, ugly, fantastic).
    Now that shows arab creativity, no one writes or makes stupid comments.
    What ignorant hypocrites. What poor creative. Is this your ones?
    Good Arabs. clap clap!

    A true western artist-graphic-designer.

  31. 51

    WOW Awesome works.

  32. 52

    thanks a lot Otaba for this nice post
    actually i like this kind of posts >> Interviews and know a lot of talented Arab designer and great web sites that didn’t know before !

    i agree with some answers because i am working as freelancer 100% now and this back to two years ago

    if i back to time i will prefer to add my site to the list

    any way thanks , what you think to translate the interview in Arabic and sharing it ?
    that’s will be great and helpful to a lot of user and designer ;)

  33. 53

    Good Luck Guys and Girls i really like the topic

  34. 54

    Arabic web design has some problem:
    1.Typography – Persian and Arabic languages are limited to use Tahoma fonts. And this font is beautiful just in small size and Normal weight. and other typography engines (such as cufon and sifr) had some problems.(For example RTL and adjacent letters)
    2.direction:rtl IE has display unexpected result with changing the page direction…

    • 55


      Adobe solved the RTL problem in flash cs5, you can use the font you need, Embed it … go dynamically with XML , web service .. whatever.
      After few trials you can get amazing results ( don’t forget to use TLF new text field type ).


    • 56

      Reaction on your first point: that’s not completely true. With @font-face you can use other fonts. I used a beautiful Arabic font on a site once. I’m too lazy to look up which font is was, but I do know that you were allowed to use it.

    • 57

      Agree with you Ali totally: the font and the direction are huge problems facing the arab designers.
      the flash or the @font-face aren’t always the available solution or the right one to choose.
      more and more arabic youths moves to web developing (with the help of the ready made templates) and quit the designing field.

      here are some of the bilingual sites i did:

  35. 58

    Nice article Otba, keep it up

  36. 59

    As a webdesigner from Algeria with 10 years of experience, i agree with most of the opinions of the interviewed designers.

  37. 60

    Next in Japan!

  38. 61

    lol – i love the alcohol ad banner from holsten on top of the mbc 4 website (1st one) =)


    • 62

      Holsten in Saudi Arabia is non-alcoholic “near beer” :)

      • 63

        yeah i know, but its kinda funny to see ads like this in an “arab world” web design collection. like the licker stores you’ll find in the desert around dubai with arabic ad signs for alcohol! =)

  39. 64

    Some of the websites featured here are really nice. They all deserved to be featured here.

    Thanks for sharing.

  40. 65

    Thanks for this insight into the web in the Arabic world.

  41. 66

    Why not any Iranian designer? (as far as I read) for what I’ve seen they’re the best in the arab world… but to be honest, I don’t really like the idea of showcasing the “whole” arab world, you should have kept focusing on countries, not languages… the situation in arab countries is very different from one to the other. What would you think if it was “Showcase of web design in Europe”? or “in the commonwealth”?…

    • 67
    • 68

      because Iranian don’t speak Arabic, they speak Persian.

    • 69

      Iranian are not part of the Arab world since they are Persian, so how come they are the best? :)
      Europe have no single language, and there was no history of one unified big nation. Arab world speak one language, and was a once a unified nation. Even today, with all the differences between them, you can find lots of similarities.

  42. 70
  43. 71

    I was expecting more then 70% of those showcased websites to be either flash or have table layout, but it’s about 20%. They’re getting better :)

  44. 72

    Very esquisite post. When I was in college we had to make a work about the differences in design and brading in the different parts of the world. It would be very useful that time, but it´s certain a very nice read.


  45. 73
  46. 74

    it’s the first time i see arabic works like these !!!
    really awesome !!

  47. 75

    prince bazawule

    September 20, 2010 7:12 pm

    A refreshingly different outlook on web design, interesting compilation.

  48. 76

    There are still space for the web – arab market. Liked the post

  49. 77

    Thanks for mentioning HyperStage’s website Otba,

    I would also like to add the website of Arabic A List Apart, the official Arabic translation of A List Apart as a resource for Arab web designers and developers.

  50. 78

    Really good post for giving an idea about web designing in Arab world.
    I am waiting now for a showcase of web design in Asia or South Asia.

  51. 79

    Main difference between western world and Arab world is.. in middle east still people like complex sites with lot of images and colours……..Another big pain is dual language.. that is English & Arabic.. it is a very hectic job to keep both versions updated and synchronised.

  52. 80

    Your reviews are really good .. hope India comes next :-p

  53. 81

    where is “design in Poland” in related posts?! ;P

  54. 82

    Great………i know that arabic art and islamic art is very beautiful but not well known in the designing world, great to see some truly universal content!

  55. 83

    Yep, very obsolete looking sites… (most of them) no taste whatsoever. IMO.
    And great majority of WOWy comments made by people from the “Arab World”…
    Strangely enough those from “non Arab World” avoid commenting.

    No hard feelings but here is nothing to be proud with, not yet at least

  56. 84

    Very Inspiring. About the Arabic Typography, I think @font-face would just work fine.

  57. 85

    I would say that Ulrich has a point most of the sites showcased here look dated or mediocre at best. There are however a handful of good ones, mostly the first few shown in the article. But it is good to see how design is evolving out there and what is important to other cultures when it comes to design. So I would support posting similar articles in the future.

    Also don’t forget there is a lot of crappy web design in america and europe as well.

  58. 86 is definitly something u should watch out for

  59. 87

    I’m not fond of many of these designs, simply because I don’t like it. Don’t like Arabic style, culture or any of their barbaric practices.

    What I find interesting is the difference between comments here and comments on showcase of Israeli designs.

    I don’t want to comment off topic so I’ll stick to the article, I really didn’t find any of these styles particularly interesting, but thanks for opening our eyes to some global web design, that’s nice.

    • 88

      Well said, Luis.
      What a totally useless nation – almost 400 millions that contribute nothing but ignorance and primitivity to the world.

      • 89

        hhh .. Eat yourself .. you are just a Jealous Jewish :D .. if you don’t like every thing about Arabs . why did you read the topic .. why did u preview the designs ..

        if you don’t know .. we are here in smashing magazine .. a website for art and design .. not at political arena

      • 90

        @Springbok: what you said probably applies to your nation as well (or the people you hang with). If you didn’t like the designs, you are free to say so. But no one asked your opinion about the culture/countries. To be ignorant yourself is something, but to be a hater is far worse.

        @Luis: you should learn how to stick to the topic first, then use that statement. You are free to discuss these designs (whether good or bad), but nothing beyond that and your comment up to that statement is totally off topic. And I am not going to discuss the behavior of a country like Israel like you did with arabic countries, since it is off topic.

  60. 91

    Very interesting, I will work on a Arabic Web design project soon..

  61. 92

    A good read and a great insight of what’s happening in the web design world in middle east and gulf countries. I wouldn’t ask for a better thing for today.. thanks Otba for your great efforts in putting this all together and much thanks for the people who participated in this lovely article. God bless you.

  62. 93

    mohammed shehata

    September 21, 2010 6:27 pm

    Thanks for including my site :-) Wow, great post really, I liked you have made a random showcase so it has personal, blogs, portfolios, news and portals and even more … this is great.
    @Boba my site has a flash-based portfolio and div based :P
    @Ramzi, not all of them at Jordan, saw couple of Egyptians, mine is one of them.
    @Luis as usual, you better keep the hate-feeling to yourself, no one mention Isreal here and your comment is out of the context, but this is typical the Jewish style/thought .

  63. 94

    I like how Arabic flows. Looks really nice in many of these designs. Hopefully there will be more options for font embedding soon.

    Some really nice work here.

  64. 95

    good article

  65. 96

    We Shop The World also a great design from Arab World

    Designed by

  66. 98

    Very nice post and I can’t wait to share my new upcoming site for an Arabic Iraqi singer and I’ll just post the link now. Should be done in a few weeks though!
    I’ve done some other work (I’m also arabic) but most of my inspiration comes from the west since it is where I studied web design. What really helps me get a different take on design is my middle eastern background.
    Check back soon.

  67. 99

    Great Arabic works, I really loved Maghribi Style, Patchi, Nina Kreidie, and The Tamz .. Great post SM

  68. 100

    MasaAllah.. very interesting post… its very happy to meet with Arabic people.

  69. 101

    is amazing and great post, is so important for inspiration and know how they to develop a web in arab world,,,,

  70. 102

    Oh, some absolutely delightful websites there with stunning design that actually do have their own very distinct ‘Arab’ flavor! It would be lovely to see sites like dubli take inspiration from here and give their own site a nice flavor.

  71. 103

    they are childish designs,far away from being creative

  72. 105

    Abdulsalam Alasaadi

    September 23, 2010 12:39 am

    The article is good and never actually been touched by anyone from smashingmagazine before, so thank you as i am an Arab web designer myself.
    However, the websites list provided does not reflect the actual design skills Arab designers have reached nowadays. Would appreciate if more time was spent searching for better websites to showcase!
    I would really like to see similar articles in the future, talking about the Arabic calligraphy and the Islamic art.
    Thank you SmashingMagazine!

    Abdulsalam Alasaadi
    Zero One Design

  73. 106

    Thank you really interesting article.
    When a italian showcase?

  74. 107

    You forget to add the Istiraha website a portal for Lebanese restaurants built using latest Web2.0 technologies …

  75. 108

    very nice

  76. 109

    Wow! that was a fantastic article.
    It’s a nice feeling to read someone’s writings that talks about me as an Arabic Web Developer.

  77. 110

    Caesar Fernandes

    September 26, 2010 12:22 pm

    A very refreshing article to see on Smashingmagazine. Different.

    Im writing in from National Web Solutions Co(mawaqaa), Kuwait’s premiere web solutions and e-marketing provider, and from being in business for the last 9.5 years, we have come to terms with the fact that the middle eastern markets still largely look at the web as a vestige or supporting cast. Unlike the west , where the web is an integral part of business operations, the web development and design industry in this part of the world needs a huge boost in consumer trust and confidence.

    A poor local and regional publisher network which mostly comprises of amateur bloggers, VB forum installers and mini sites , is what company’s such as us have to deal with. Most of our revenue comes from corporate deals … there is no existence of a sustainable competitive atmosphere for entreprenuers to push the envelope with new concepts, designs and technologies. Everyone’s too busy trying to impress with fancy blogs and flashy intros, and nobody is focused on investing in building an industry.

  78. 111

    gr8 article… but not quite fair… the web design industry in the arab world is much more developed than they make it look in the article!

    Even the examples shown are not well researched as there are better examples to be showcased.

    For instance check the web agency that designed showcased above… and other Lebanese web agencies work…

  79. 112

    sorry but… not my type..

  80. 113


    September 30, 2010 12:27 am

    Good article!.. I have been working in a qatar based company.. people here are interested to finish the project early ignoring improvment…and one thing to say every client want there flag color on there website or any print media.. so you will find most of the qatar based websites in dark maroon and dark red.

  81. 114

    great article ^^

  82. 115

    Check us out

  83. 116


  84. 117

    really i’m verry proud of our arabic designers

    thanx a lot brother it’s an important article

  85. 118

    some of the websites are horrible

  86. 119

    هنر نزد ایرانیان هست و بس

  87. 120

    Wow really its usefull

  88. 121

    Wonderful, all wonderful … Here we see the art of creative starring in the Middle East, congratulations to the Arabs, and thank you on the subject …

  89. 122

    Great article. This is how it begins. It starts off small and slowly grows. Especially when local language domain names are coming out. We use for our Middle East website hosting. Great prices and support. The ME is picking up. Lots of aspiring developers and designers i see.

  90. 123

    Great article! Where I work we have an Arabic version of the website and I found this truly inspiring!

    Thanks for sharing!

  91. 124

    Hi All,

    Basically Im new web desingner,I have seen the designs which are Excellent .I have designed site in English and I want work with Arabic designs so i need that i may have chance of working these great designers and I would be lucky if any one designer can would consider me.Hope for new experience. Thank you

  92. 125

    it was great to see where our best designers’ level is which shows we still need to develop the web design field in Arab countries to get better than these mentioned above.

  93. 126

    Arabic Script is among the most beautiful scripts… Pernickety questions…loved it.

  94. 127

    really i’m very proud of our arabic designers

    thanx a lot brother it’s an important article

  95. 128

    it’s really nice

  96. 129

    very nice work, good luck

  97. 130

    Loay Youssef

    April 21, 2014 5:02 am

    Check this list in a showcase of web designers in Egypt:


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