I was experimenting with this Arabic typeface for a number of years during the 1990’s. It was developed using the geometry of Helvetica Narrow and the general rules of Arabic letter shapes.
The first use of this typeface was on a corporate logo for an architectural firm (Tahhan Bushnaq) that I designed. The words and sentences were grouped using Adobe illustrator.
In 1995/1996, I decided that the typeface deserves to be produced as a proper Macintosh font, to be used on various publishing projects I was involved in at the time.
A friend of mine (Haroun Haroun) who had created and recreated a few typefaces in Arabic and who had the right software tools developed my initial illustrator files into a font of three weights (Ahmad light, bold and heavy).
The font proved to be an appropriate companion to English sans serif typefaces and was used in BYTE Middle East (in its first incarnation 1994-1998), Popular Science/Arabic Edition and other publications.
The font’s design responded to the need of a geometrical, modern Arabic typeface that can work well in contemporary layout and page design. It has since become a mainstream typeface in the Arab world.
After the closure of BYTE Middle East in 1998, the typeface started spreading among designers and publishing houses in the Middle East (it was basically copied and distributed informally and never sold). What started out as an “elitist” typeface, accused of being “strange” and even illegible has now become a mainstream Arabic typeface, seen on everything from consumer product packaging and newspaper advertising to shop signs. (It also appeared in the book Arabic Typography by Huda Smitshuijzen Abifares).