Photo Essay: Shopping Arabic

Brand names are what companies all over the world use to achieve recognition for their brand in consumers’ minds, and to create a character that stands out among a sea of competition. You don’t read the word McDonald’s while driving on the road, you don’t even need to see the word, all it takes is a glimpse of a yellow M to know that this is a McDonald’s.

That’s why I unknowingly took it for granted that the letters that make the brand name were the most important part of the branding package…until I saw it in Arabic. Translating brands have never crossed my mind before, even though Arabic is my first language. Again because I’ve always thought of brand names as more of shapes than English letters. Also it might be important to note that brand names are not really “translated” in meaning, but rather written in Arabic letters.

Dubai is one of the biggest shopping destinations in the world, and even though expats make up more than 90% of its population, the city is equally in Arabic as it is in English. It’s interesting in what this fact represents in many translation aspects, especially in its many malls.

Some stores are instantly recognizable in Arabic, without needing to read the word. Maybe it’s the collection of how the word is written, the font, the colors, the background…etc. But just think of how hard it must be to keep it original and communicate the same visual in an entirely different language (and a right-to-left one).

Below are examples of Arabic branding (with their English names) of some of the most recognizable brands.

Dior
Dior

 

Swarovski
Swarovski

 

MAC Cosmetics
MAC Cosmetics

 

Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana

 

Gap
Gap

 

Bloomingdale's
Bloomingdale’s

 

Burberry
Burberry

 

Diesel
Diesel

 

Payless Shoes
Payless Shoes

 

Next
Next

 

New Look
New Look

 

Prada
Prada

 

Clarks
Clarks

 

Just Cavalli
Just Cavalli

 

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton

 

Pull & Bear
Pull & Bear

 

TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays

 

Claire's
Claire’s

Ireland Fly-In: Project Reflections

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During winter term at the iMedia MA program at Elon University, students fly to different locations around the world to work with non-profit organizations and groups on a project for the public good.
This year, our team went to Ireland to work with our client Mícheál Ó Foighil to help develop Abair Leat, the first Irish language messaging app.
Together our team created a website, a social media plan, wireframes, screen designs and promotional videos for Abair Leat, creating something that Micheal can pitch for funding to make the app a reality.

 

Abair Leat – Commercial from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

 

The most motivating part of this project is the role the app will play in solving a wider cultural problem; Irish teens have no convenient way of using Irish on social media. Their words always get autocorrected to English thus discouraging them and their peers from communicating in their original language, which use in the community has been drastically declining.
My role in the project was the video/photography lead. Together with Micheal, we made the best of our visit to Ireland by getting footage that represented the culture in the towns and cities we visited, as well as talk to experts in the communication field about the language use. During our visit to a school in Tullamore, we also heard from high school students, Abair Leat main target age range audience, about how they use social media, and what are their thoughts about Abair Leat after testing the app.

 

Abair Leat – Promotional Video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

 

What we heard while being on site was different from what we were expecting preparing for our project. Irish is not only an old language used in official settings, teenagers actually yearn for a way to use it more, they love their language and they wish there was a way to always use it, and more people to speak it with.
As one girl we interviewed said “I always say my hellos and goodbye in Irish, even when I’m in the city and when no one understands me. It’s the way I connect with my culture.”
Hopefully many will be able to text and chat in Irish soon not only learn Irish in school.
In addition to the videos above, we created a video that shows part of our experience as a team which was a great and a rewarding opportunity for us to work on a real project in a challenging setting.

 

Ireland Fly-In 2016 Team video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

Inverin, Galway & Tullamore