In late April, the Emirate of Dubai announced the release of its eponymous typeface, designed in conjunction with Microsoft and Monotype, which is both openly downloadable and bundled with Microsoft Office. A strikingly generic sans-serif built for some 23 languages, the typeface is designed to be easily read on any screen, at any size. It is marketed in the dramatic language of too-serious PR campaigns) as simultaneously urban, global, ancient and modern: it aims to synthesize Dubai’s architectural futurism with heritage characters both Latin and Arabic. Like its namesake, the Dubai font wants to be anything for everyone — the Helvetica of capitalist universalism — able to knit together even civilizations that are otherwise at war, that they might at least still do business. The Dubai font is also vexingly marketed as a new global medium for self-expression’, which is ironic for a product of a repressive political climate.

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