RIYADH: Those who have yet to find a hobby interesting enough to pick up and develop during quarantine have a new option: Arabic calligraphy.
The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday the launch of an online platform supervised by a group of professional calligraphers from all over the Arab world.
Courses will be given by renowned artists such as Mokhtar Alim Shaqdar, the calligrapher of the Kiswa of the Kaaba, and Nasser Maymoon, founder of the Saudi Association of Arabic Calligraphy.
The platform - alkhattat.net - offers courses in six different types of Arabic calligraphy in video format. It allows users to track their progress, set goals, and offers a certificate of completion once all the videos in a course have been watched. Sign up is free and only requires an email address. People can also enroll in multiple courses at the same time.
Ameera Al-Anizi, a bank worker, said she was looking forward to learning calligraphy as a new skill and was also happy that the platform would give her mother the opportunity to pick it back up again.
“My mom used to love doing calligraphy when she was younger, but when she had kids she stopped having as much time to devote to it,” she told Arab News. “All her kids are older now, so she’s excited to get back into it, and we’re going to try to motivate each other to keep going.
She also said she was grateful for the opportunity to learn something new while in quarantine.
“Now is the perfect time to learn something I’ve always wanted to learn, and where many others would have charged a small fortune for this kind of instruction, the ministry is providing it for free. It’s an amazing endeavor,” she said.
Omar Al-Othman, a calligrapher, said that the artists offering lessons on the platform were “the best of the best” and that the quality of lessons on offer was unmatched.
“I’ve skimmed the lessons on offer on the website and they are a wonderful way for people to learn to develop this amazing skill,” he told Arab News. “Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decorative art are so underappreciated in today’s day and age, and I’m hoping that this platform will inspire more people to try to practice this beautiful and enduring art form.”
The Ministry of Culture's support for this platform falls under its “Year of Arabic Calligraphy” initiative, which contains activities and events that the ministry has planned for this year and next.