"While walking the streets of Beirut in the summer of 2013, and being inspired by all the Arabic graffiti, I recalled how I've always been intrigued and fascinated by the development of the Arabic language in modern times. From the original six calligraphy styles, I keep witnessing new typographic designs that are evolving on the walls between my two home towns of Amman and Beirut. Being a photographer and also a fan of tattoo art, this project was born. I wish to photograph the people who have tattooed this beautiful and evolving hand-writing as a means to explore the various ways the younger generation of the Arab world is expressing itself. The pride and connection with a rich historic heritage by assimilating it into a new form to be displayed forever on the human body. I hope to showcase all the different kinds of Arabic calligraphy that exists in this region from Iran to Morocco and from Turkey to Oman, but to also portray the diversity and wide spectrum of people who ink them on their bodies, and most importantly, the meaning and story of each."




ArabInk: An Arabic Tattoo Photography Project by Bashar Alaeddin


The Nabataeans, most famous for building the Rose City of Petra,  ruled in what is modern-day Jordan from the 2nd century BC. They were Arabs.

The Arabic alphabet developed from the Nabatean script, a thousand years before the start of the Islamic era. After Islam, an emphasis on geometric patterns and calligraphy was born of Islam’s denunciation of figurative images. Thus it came to be that the Arabic script has evolved to become a medium for artistic expression.

Arabic calligraphy is transcendental. With its flowing and expressive nature, Arabic lettering expands your heart to the meaning of a word, presenting the great truths and revealing meaning spontaneously to the viewer. It is beautiful. Rich. Meaningful.

The ArabInk photography project explores the art inked on various people who have Arabic tattoos as a means of expression and identity.


About the Photographer:

Bashar Alaeddin is a Jordanian/Lebanese digital photographer of Palestinian origin. 'Arab Ink' is his long-term personal photography project; that aims to document and archive the various forms of Arabic calligraphy that Arab youth is tattooing on their bodies as a explorative form of self-expression and as an extension of their personal identity. 




part of the younger generation of the Arab world is using the Arabic language and evolving its various calligraphic styles as a means of self-expression through the canvas of the human body. His aim is to shed light on the evolving methods of exploring our identity as a people.



younger generation is  rebelling with this body-art expression, however, it is also assimilating with the older generation by embracing the rich cultural history. They are proud of their heritage, yet have also moulded it into in their own eyes to express out their own self-identity in a world that is ever changing and ever-evolving in front of the world.


add the word "roots"



Arabic is a very unique language. The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters and each letter can have up to four different forms. The forms vary, whether the letter stands alone or occurs in the beginning, middle, or end of a word. Short vowels are represented by a set of marks above or below a letter. The letters connect together and are read from right to left.
But that's not all. Arabic calligraphy has a transcendental, spiritual nature not only to Arabs, but to the people who speak non-Arabic languages. Like those who also use very similar (or nearly identical) Arabic script – Iran and Pakistan.  The Arabic script has played and continues to play the role to record history, exchange information, maintain financial accounts, and collate laws. Its history also shows it used to embellish architecture, sculptures, ceramics, textiles and glassware. It’s most recent hype has been used as an art form and medium of expression on bodies. 

This brings me to the subject of our relationship with our bodies. It is complex and tangled up with all sorts of pressure. The complexity is even more defined for Arabs, where cultural conservatism and modesty are the norm. The ArabInk photography project explores the art of tattoos on various people who use Arabic as a means of expression and identity.

"The personal aim for me for this project is two-fold. First, it is to document the culture of the people who have made such commitments to the artwork that has been tattooed; for my audience to witness the immensely wide spectrum of diversity of the portraits. And second, to photograph the evolving styles and typography of the Arabic language, from the original six styles 1400 years ago to the modern day designs. 




1. If it is possible, either have a friend or family member photograph it, or if there's no one, place your camera on a stable tripod (or desk, table, etc) and put it on self-timer for a sharp and stabilised image.

2. Please photograph on a white or black, or any solid coloured background. (We will still accept if you photograph out in the street or in a park however we prefer empty or minimal environments to place the focus more on you and the tattoo)

3. Photographing during the day, or by a window with ambient sunlight is best. If not possible, use an off-camera flash or switch your camera's built-in flash to 2nd Curtain. (We can guide you to do this by email if you can not find it in your camera's menu system)

4. Ensure your settings are at the highest possible resolution. Preferably a camera with 12mp or higher. If it can shoot in RAW format, that would be best, if not, then at the highest/largest JPEG setting your camera can capture, usually as JPEG/Fine. Also, make sure the colour space is in Adobe RGB and not sRGB. (We will also accept images taken with phones, however, we kindly ask to not add any filters as we will do the black-and-white conversion.)