- Akwan’s inaugural programme, Malaab is a set of pop-up functional playground installations incorporating play pieces designed in the shape of Arabic letters.
- The initial pop-up, Koun, will be installed at Saudi Design Week from November 6 to 9 at the Riyadh Front.
- Dhad will be installed in Dubai Design District, as part of Dubai Design Week, from November 11 to 16, 2019.
- Akwan’s future programming will include workshops, pop-ups and fun educational products
Dubai, United Arab Emirates | November 3, 2019 – Saudi designer, Lujain Abulfaraj and Emirati designer, Sara Al Arif, today announce the launch of Akwan, a social movement and learning platform that aims to instil the love of the Arabic language in the hearts of children, through play, engaging content, workshops, pop-ups and fun educational products. Akwan was born out of a personal struggle to encourage children to engage with learning Arabic and subsequent exploration of the tools available to teach children Arabic through play and other means of engaging with the language.
The movement’s initial programme, Malaab, from the Arabic for playground, comprises of two functional playgrounds inspired by Arabic letters. Malaab.Koun, the construction of which is funded by the European Union, will debut at Saudi Design Week, as part of the Riyadh Season, from November 6 to 9 at the Riyadh Front, and Malaab.Dhad, which is supported by Urban.Play, will be installed in Dubai Design Week, from November 11 to 16 at Dubai Design District, respectively. Both playgrounds are free and open for the public to engage with and the fabrication of both installations was consulted on by Robocraft.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the Malaab functional playgrounds, Lujain Abdulfaraj, Co-Founder of Akwan, said “When my son’s dislike for his Arabic classes drove him to the point of tears, my heart sank. I began looking for tools, toys and games that might help him begin to take an interest in the language and when I wasn’t able to find anything, I felt that I had a role to play in promoting the growth of the Arabic language. I am on a mission to help kids find their love of Arabic through play.”
Sara Al Arif, Co-Founder of Akwan added “Malaab is a series of fun and functional installations that encourage people to interact with the Arabic language in a playful and engaging way. More importantly, it is a statement to encourage collaboration across disciplines in the vital effort to increase the level of engagement with Arabic.”
Akwan will also develop toys and other products to help parents reinforce the learn-through-play philosophy at home. The initial product, a toy aimed at children aged 3+ has received a Design Protection Patent in both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The toy will be unveiled through a crowdfunding campaign later this year.
Founded by Saudi designer, Lujain Abulfaraj and Emirati designer, Sara Al Arif, Akwan is a social movement and learning platform that aims to instil the love of the Arabic language in the hearts of children. Born out of a personal struggle to encourage children to engage with Arabic, Akwan aims to create tools, toys and other products to develop a love of Arabic through play.
About Lujain Abulfaraj
Saudi-born Lujain Abulfaraj is the co-founder and creative director of Twothirds Design Studio, Co-founder of Akwan and co-founder and previous design director of WTD Magazine. Lujain is a graduate of Visual Communications from the American University of Sharjah where she began her exploration of Arabic typography and calligraphy.
Lujain kick-started her career by creating the branding for Saudi-based Makkah News Paper as well as the UAE Pavilion’s first participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale. With 10 years of experience in the design field, Lujain continues to find inspiration in cultural aesthetics coupled with Arabic typography and transforming them into engaging modern designs. She enjoys working closely with clients from different fields to develop their positioning strategies and brand identities.
About Sara Al Arif
Sara Al Arif, is the co-founder and creative director of Twothirds Design Bureau and Akwan. She is an Emirati creative professional with a degree in Graphic Design from Zayed University and over ten years of experience in the design field. Sara’s work has quickly gained regional recognition due to her vision when conceptualizing and building visual identities.
Through her designs, Sara aims to always find answers for the daily challenges by creating human-centred solutions that meet an individual’s emotional needs.
About Dubai Design Week
Dubai Design Week is the region’s largest creative festival, reflecting Dubai’s position as the design capital of the Middle East. The free-to-attend programme is made up of more than 200 events covering design across a range of disciplines including architecture, product design, interiors, multimedia and graphic design.
An accessible meeting point for the global design community, Dubai Design Week, staged in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), is a platform for regional design as well as a catalyst for the growth of the creative scene in Dubai. In its 2018 edition, the annual event attracted 75,000 visitors to Dubai Design District (d3) alone.
The festival’s varied programme consists of design-related events, exhibitions, installations, competitions, talks and workshops. Key events include the region’s leading design fair, Downtown Design; Global Grad Show that brings together works from 100 of the most innovative universities across the world; and Abwab, the curated and interactive project containing original design from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
Dubai Design Week is managed by the Art Dubai Group and is held under the dedicated patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA).
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