Ghada Wali: What’s the easiest way to learn Arabic? With LEGO bricks!

Ghada Wali

Ghada Wali is the founder and creative director of Wali’s Studio in Egypt and a multiple award-winning graphic designer. She is also the first Arab designer to speak at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris at the celebration of the World Arabic Language Day. In 2017 she made it on to the Forbes European list (Forbes 30 Under 30 List) and thus became the first Egyptian woman to appear in both the Immigrants and the Arts categories.

In her life and professional career, Wali has too often faced prejudice against Egyptians, but also Arabs in general. For much of the world, the language and culture of her people are mostly painted with the colours of misunderstanding, non-acceptance, fear and discrimination; while Egyptians, Arabs and the inhabitants of the Middle East are mostly associates with terrorism and destruction. She saw this for herself when she noticed that these were the only topics of books about her world in a European bookstore.

Wali decided to approach this issue in her own, creative and unique way by designing a platform for learning Arabic with the help of LEGO bricks. Each letter of Arabic in her “Let’s play” project is represented by a different colour of LEGO brick, sound and an equivalent translation. This creative platform secured her a place in the top 100 graphic design works in the world according to the Society of Typographic Arts in Chicago.

Wali held a TED talk about learning Arabic using LEGO, becoming the youngest TED speaker to represent the Middle East and North Africa. She firmly believes that graphic design, but also proper and respectful two-way communication, can change the world. She also maintains that the combination of contemporary design, history and branding can leave a bright mark on Egyptian and Middle Eastern identity. You can listen to her inspiring speech here.

Thanks to her achievements and efforts towards the promotion of the Arabic language, Ghada Wali was named one of the 50 most influential women in Egypt in 2018. She comes to the Weekend as part of the Golden Drum festival – an international competition of creative minds from the marketing and advertising industries.