Mastering the art of Arabic calligraphy can be a challenge even for native speakers, who revere this art form for its ability to convey meaning while avoiding figurative imagery. Sargis Simonyan, a non-Arabic speaker and freshman at QF Partner University Georgetown in Qatar (GU-Q) took on this challenge and won second place in Education City’s 2nd Annual Arabic Calligraphy Competition.
Organized by Student Housing and Residence Life, the QF Alumni Office and the Minaretein Center to celebrate Qatar National Day and World Arabic Language Day, this year’s competition invited all Education City students and alumni to submit their creative talents in Arabic calligraphy.
âIt was such a surprise and an honor for me to see my work appreciated so much alongside other amazing pieces,â said Sargis, an emerging artist who has worked with a variety of mediums and art forms. But his winning entry was the first calligraphic artwork he had ever created, in any language.
The challenge was to submit an original work of calligraphy in any Arabic font displaying the Quranic verse which translates to: “And whoever saves a life, it will be as if he saves all mankind.” Six finalists were selected from the submitted entries, who were then invited to recreate their entries at an event broadcast live in the Minaretein building in Education City before the winners were announced.
Sargis was introduced to the Arabic language with his enrollment in the GU-Q Intensive First Year Modern Standard Arabic class taught by Dr. Hana Zabarah, where students begin by learning and pronouncing the alphabet.
âA month into the semester, and we were already reading and writing in Arabic,â Sargis said. âProfessor Zabarah is not only a great professional, but she also adores teaching Arabic, which unwittingly wakes up the hidden language lover in every student she works with; and I am no exception.
Dr Zabarah praised her victory, saying, âAt this point students don’t usually participate in calligraphy competitions, so this is a really significant achievement. His teacher also shared that Sargis showed an early aptitude for the Arabic alphabet, submitting his early homework with a calligraphic twist.
When he heard about the competition, he was able to build on those early efforts, transforming the curved lettering he had practiced in class into the beautiful symmetrical shape that defines Islamic calligraphic art. âI was happy to see that he found a creative outlet for his talent and continued his calligraphy elsewhere,â said his teacher. Its innovative and winning design combines a universal message of peace with a classic design motif from its own cultural heritage.
âThe calligraphy competition allowed me to decompress, innovate and satisfy my artistic interests after a long creative break. It also allowed him to discover a whole new branch of the visual arts. âI am definitely more ambitious when it comes to calligraphy and look forward to learning more and creating more in this field.