“to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers in the Middle East and beyond.”
“We envision a world in which the only barrier to an innovator’s success is the quality of his or her ideas. We want to give every scientist, technologist and engineer the opportunity to discover and fulfill their potential, for themselves and for their societies, making new markets, making new companies, and making a difference in the world around them.“
And I was pleasantly surprised to learn about i2 Institute that promotes Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Middle East Region, but the greatest surprise came from the fact that it was founded by a woman named Dr. Hayat Sindi from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. And I thought that Saudi Arabian women were largely oppressed, being denied some of the most basic things that we all take for granted, such as driving and going about alone without a male relative to escort them. So kudos to Mrs. Sindi for making a breakthrough. And what a breakthrough at that.
I won’t dwell too much on the Institute’s mission, which is of course very noble and progressive as it promotes a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in a land that is known for their innovation, at least not to the outside world. I’m equally interested in their logo design and how it was created, as it gives a nod to the Arab culture and pays attention to the subtle cultural nuances that play such a compelling role in identity design.
Weigh the consequences
It wasn’t so much the opportunity to do it, Simmons says, as the consequences for not doing it. “These are very well educated, mostly men, but there’s not a lot of opportunity–even less if you don’t have a degree, even less if you’re a woman. Most of them just stay in the educational world getting degree after degree because there’s no way to apply what they’ve learned back home. Imagine you’ve got a population with the passion to get the most difficult degrees in science, engineering, or technology, and there’s no way to apply it. Where do you find your outlet?”
Identify the exceptional
“One of the first things we did was ask what made Hayat exceptional,” says Simmons. And they found? “She’s a combiner. She’s got all these degrees across disciplines. The institute was similar–it was science and social good.” Sindi says the name I2 represents the duality at the heart of the organization: “ideas and impact, thought and action, imagination and ingenuity.”
Embrace the audience
The logo is set in Graphik, with the number 2 turned sideways so it reads right to left, a nod toward Arabic writing, and with a curve that hints at calligraphy. But it also could be an image of a figure leaping forward, says Simmons. “We were very sensitive about being too American about it. You’re talking about people’s pride and we didn’t want to be too rah-rah-rah about the issue. What people do with their lives is very sensitive subject. We didn’t want to make a spectacle of that. We just wanted to be very frank, very clear, and very clean.” Sindi wasn’t concerned about the name sounding too American, but Simmons says they tried to avoid anything that could have been too political. They even discarded a name he liked, “The Well,” because of potentially negative oil-based connotations.
“THE LOGO READS RIGHT TO LEFT, A NOD TOWARD ARABIC WRITING, AND WITH A CURVE THAT HINTS AT CALLIGRAPHY.