From Amman to Tunis with Jordanian Designer Ali Almasri

Meet the Jordanian photographer modernising calligraphy

30-year old Jordanian artist and designer Ali Almasri began touring the Arab world in 2015. Passionate about Arab identities in urban and cultural contexts, his architecture-meets-calligraphy photographs are a reinterpretation of the classic Arab art.

The texts reflect the specific cultural aspects of each respective city where each picture was shot.

MILLE caught up with Almasri in between his travels to find out about the inspiration behind his work, his love for the Arabic language and his favourite regional spots.

Where in the Arab world did you start this project? Which place inspires and moves you the most?
It all started in Cairo very randomly. Cairo still overwhelms me with its diversity and many layers. It’s also there that I managed to find contacts and opportunities with the entire Arab world.

Where does your love of the Arabic language and calligraphy come from?
I have a tendency for observing details. I am also charmed by the craftsmanship of any practice. In typography and calligraphy I have managed to find a good balance between the crafty and the conceptual aspects. I’m also always interested in dealing with the visual Arabic identity, so I find the Arabic letter to be the perfect medium to express and tackle all the issues that are related to the Arab identity. I think that more than any time, every culture is striving to put itself out there and fight against the dullness and sameness of globalisation. The Arabic language has flourished visually in the last 5 years and it shall continue. 

What is your favourite off-the-radar holiday destination in the Arab world?
I am so in love lately with Tunisia, I’m trying to explore all the chill destinations outside the capital.

What is your favourite culinary destination in the Arab world?
It’s a bit difficult to choose one favourite destination, as I have a bit of my heart here and there. In Kuwait, I really liked the Iranian pop food; also the international cuisine scene is so good. In Beirut, I love the Armenian food. In Cairo, I have several underground spots. In the last five years, the food scene in Amman has been going crazy. In Tunisia they have the best seafood.

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