Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A few good open-license Arabic fonts

Edit: I went ahead and put these here so I can maintain them more easily: Open-license Arabic fonts

Did you know the Arabic script is the second most-used writing system in the world? (source)

In case you happen to be looking for a decent Arabic font for your website, software, or publication, I've run across a few good ones that have an open license:
  • DejaVu Sans and DejaVu Sans Mono
    These fonts support a lot more than just Arabic, but they do Arabic quite well. They come bundled with most GNU/Linux distributions. There are other DejaVu fonts, but as far as I can tell they don't support Arabic.

  • Droid Naskh
    This font was created by the Arabic typographer Pascal Zoghbi for Google. You can read more about it here:

  • DroidSansArabic
    This is the Arabic font for the Android OS. it was commissioned by Google and created by Ascender Corporation.

  • Kacst
    A font from the folks behind the Arabeyes project supporting Arabic on *nix. More about this font and other fonts by Arabeyes here:

  • SIL Arabic fonts
    SIL has released two fonts under an open license: Scheherazade and Lateef. Note that these fonts don't contain individual glyphs for all of the forms (initial, medial, final), and so if you use them in an environment that doesn't support the advanced shaping features of OpenType or AAT (such as Android), the letters won't be properly connected.
Currently unreleased fonts:
  • Shasha
    Yet another Google commissioned font, this one appears to still be in progress. Interestingly, it bears a strong resemblance to DroidSansArabic. You can read more about its development here:

  • Ubuntu Arabic font
    (Thanks to Phil R for pointing out this one)
    It looks like Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) has commissioned Dalton Maag to create an Arabic font for Ubuntu. Nothing released yet, but here are some previews:
    Ubuntu Arabic, in print!
    Hebrew and Arabic on track
Pretty cool to note that Google commissioned 3 of the font families mentioned. Certainly Google isn't perfect, but they do contribute quite a bit back to the community.


  1. I just stumbled across this post and it's a helpful little collection, thanks for putting it together. My main reason for writing is that the DroidSansArabic link seems to broken, and I can't find it on any other legitimate site. Any ideas? I was also thinking you could probably add to this list Scheherazade and, hopefully within the next year or so, Ubuntu. Best wishes

  2. Apparently the DroidSansArabic link is down because was hacked recently. Here's an alternate link to the font for now: DroidSansArabic.ttf.

    I didn't include the SIL Arabic fonts (including Scheherazade) because they only seem to have shaping support for OpenType, but I suppose I should include them.

    I wasn't aware there was an Arabic font in the works for Ubuntu. Thanks for that!

  3. Thank you for the quick response! And the working link for Droid Sans Arabic - it's a really nice font, and fills the "sleek modern" niche in the list very well. A slight shame its lack of basic Latin, punctuation and numerals seems to throw off certain programs. I wonder if it's possible the Droid Arabics will be merged with the main Droid fonts at some point? That would seem the logical solution, if its technically viable. It was interesting to hear about the quirk with the SIL fonts, I hadn't come across any difficulties with them yet. Thanks again for your help!

  4. GNU Freefont project also includes Arabic: Arabic is supported in Serif and Mono variants.