One young Tunisian started a fire.
Revolution. Reform. Reorientation. Rethinking.
Suddenly everything seems possible, exciting, dangerous.
The shackles are starting to break. But facts still have to be faced.
The Arab world is in a bad shape. A significant percentage of the population is still illiterate. Arab governance ranges from the promise of democratic revolutions to absolute authoritarianism. Our cities are overcrowded and suffering from constant traffic jams and pollution. They have lost their traditional character, which was replaced with blandness, punctuated by slum-like conditions, or islands of unsustainable luxury.
We are drowning in ugliness and commercial signs and billboards. Noise pollution is everywhere.
Our lifestyles are unsustainable. Our economies are import oriented and almost devoid of any innovation or invention.
We consume products and services designed and manufactured in the East and the West but it is hard to find a well designed product of Arab origin.
Our visual heritage of calligraphy, arabesque and our architectural traditions have mostly been turned into ready made, superficial patterns that are “made in China”, sold to us without thought or consideration.
Our contribution to modern global knowledge is insignificant. Most of our knowledge products: books, magazines, newspapers, websites, are badly designed, with no respect to the beauty of the Arabic script and no understanding of modern information design.
Our reputation in the world, prior to Bouazizi and January 25, 2011 was either that of backwardness, terrorism or the wastefulness of extreme oil wealth. We were simply not on the map of progress.
Oh Arabs! It is time to redesign our life. It is time to connect all our forces of positive change. It is time to stop the waste of wealth and life. It is time to clean up, create and prosper.
The word for design in Arabic is Tasmeem. It means: will, perseverance. Design is the will to change reality for the better and the perseverance to follow through on ideas. This will and perseverance is what we need today.
Let’s ReDesign Arabia.
Let’s redesign governance: Design better policies. Fight for the freedom to create. Let’s design people-centric governments. Let’s create democracies that listen.
Let’s redesign for sustainability and end the a culture of wastefulness.
Let’s redesign our cities. Let’s stop the mindless growth of mega cities. Let’s reverse the segregation of our cities into rich and poor neighborhoods. Let’s say no to gated communities and yes to neighborhoods that integrate life, work and recreation. Let’s recognize and develop our urban heritage. Let’s encourage the growth of organic culture.
Let’s redesign our buildings. Let’s build an architecture of sustainable modernity. An architecture of its place and time. Let’s refuse the museumification of Arab and Islamic architecture. Let’s not build mindless public monuments but imagine great public experiences.
Let’s start a product design movement. Let’s reinvent our traditional products. Let’s embrace 21st century manufacturing and prototyping. Let’s imagine what products can the new Arabia give to the world. Let’s think of product that can be manufactured, used and then reused and recycled.
Let’s bring back the bazaar: let’s make our commercial spaces, shopping malls and even workplaces into places for the exchange of goods, ideas and culture. Places for community not just consumption.
Let’s reimagine our schools and create education spaces and materials: Let’s not waste another generation of young Arab minds. We want vibrant schools not prisons. Let’s create the greatest possible educational experience on paper, on screens, on walls. Let’s make great education accessible for all.
Let’s redesign the Arab mind. Let’s finally make the leap into 21st century science and technology. Let’s free the mind from limits and celebrate discovery.
Let’s redesign the Arab written word. Let there be thousands of new inventive Arabic typefaces. Let’s find a new place for Arabic calligraphy in the modern world.
Let’s stop visual pollution and signage clutter. Let’s start a new revival of the Islamic arts and end the superficial use of arabesque patterns.
Redesign Arabia requires the connection of people, of disciplines, of regions. The freedom to create, the perseverance to build and the courage to change your mind.
One young Tunisian ignited a revolution.
One person can change the world.
Everyone can be a designer.
What will you design?