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Display Arabic correctly In Safari Web Browsers
I have been often frustrated by Safari's apparent inability to display Arabic web sites correctly, whereby Arabic words are displayed as single characters without ligatures. It turns out that this behavior has something to do with defective versions of Times New Roman and Arial fonts belonging to Microsoft Office.

According to information on this page, removing these fonts, or replacing them with the original versions installed by OS X, will solve the problem. It worked perfectly for me.

[robg adds: I haven't confirmed this one.]
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Display Arabic correctly In Safari | 12 comments | Create New Account
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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: fds on Oct 17, '06 08:08:31AM

The referenced web site correctly explains that those fonts installed by Office are by no means defective; it's OS X which still got some blanks to fill in its OpenType support, and by removing the fonts and returning to the very limited copies supplied with OS X, which do not contain Arabic support at all, you are simply making Safari drop back to use another font which does -- and uses Apple's own AAT technology instead of OpenType.



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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: jfa643 on Oct 17, '06 01:46:34PM

The site clearly states:

"Notice, however, a bug that can cause Safari some problems: When you install Microsoft Office 2004, faulty versions of the fonts Times New Roman and Arial also gets installed. They block Safari's display of Arabic text. Throw these two fonts out (or replace them with older, non-Microsoft versions), and Safari will again display Arabic properly."



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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: fds on Oct 17, '06 08:13:36PM

Huh? Where did you copy that?
Here's what the "this page" link says here:

"This, incidentally, is why Safari suddenly stops displaying Arabic properly when you install Microsoft Office 2004: That also installs versions of Arial and Times New Roman that contains Arabic characters, but in OpenType format (as in Windows). Web pages will routinely ask for Times New Roman even for Arabic text, and as it exists on your machine and contains Arabic characters, Safari will go ahead and display those. But because this (Microsoft) font is based on OpenType, the Arabic letters it contains do not combine into words. You must dump the Microsoft version of these two fonts, and replace them with the older, Apple, version of the same fonts, which did not have any Arabic. Safari will then pick another, working, Arabic font to display the text of the website."

And this is correct.



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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: HandyMac on Oct 19, '06 05:47:54AM
Yes, OS X does not fully support OpenType, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Once again we have a conflict between Apple's superior method of doing something and the de facto (i.e. Micro$oft) "standard". Apple's AAT technology for non-Western complex scripts (wherein fonts include everything necessary to form things like Arabic ligatures) gives developers and users complete control over adding such scripts to their computers, while OpenType only works if the OS (i.e. Windoze) includes features necessary for it to work. Thus Micro$oft decides whether your minority script is "worthy" of being used on your computer. Apple may well be persuaded eventually to join the herd, but it will be a loss for Mac users. See here for one story of how Apple's recent attempts to make OpenType work in OS X have torpedoed efforts of one developer to make a cross-platform system for one "minority" script that Micro$oft has not yet "blessed" (but that works fine in OS X).

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Other Fonts Too
Authored by: thg on Oct 19, '06 01:18:32PM
As one may imagine, this issue was discovered and solved back in May 2004, when Mac Office 2004 came out with those fonts. But it never hurts to repeat it. There are a few other fonts which are commonly seen in Arabic sites .css which Mac users may have on their machine which will cause the same problem in Safari. These are mentioned in the Browser Issues section of this FAQ for the Apple Forums:

http://homepage.mac.com/thgewecke/TypingArabic.html



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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: mnystedt on Oct 17, '06 09:11:41AM
We have a lot more on various issues of Arabic and Mac on our site at http://www.emiratesmac.com.com.

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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: jfa643 on Oct 17, '06 08:55:20PM
Duplicate Hint
Authored by: bedouin on Oct 17, '06 10:47:05PM
I posted the same exact hint a while ago.

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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: palahala on Feb 16, '08 09:26:11PM

And for web developers: you simply may want to ensure you list some Safari compatible fonts first in your CSS. Like:

font-family: 'Arabic Transparent', 'Geeza Pro';

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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: palahala on Feb 16, '08 09:37:14PM

...and, again for the web developers: you may want to compare the output of Safari with some other browsers. As I don't read Arabic, and the pages looked Arabic to me, it took me some time to see that the rendering was actually quite different!



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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: palahala on Sep 22, '09 11:47:39AM

I happened to have quoted part of that article that now seems to have vanished from the net:

The technology that allows automatic context analysis - that makes an isolate "b" turn into an initial b when you add another character to it - is linked to the font, and can in OS X be of two different types: One is Apple's own which is called AAT, for "Apple Advanced Technology". The other is the one mentioned above, called OpenType. (*) A program will have to support either one or the other, and a font is normally also either one or the other. Apple started, as mentioned, to support OpenType font files from OS X, but it used its own AAT technology for Arabic context analysis. That is why Apple's own TextEdit and all programs that base their Arabic text handling on the OS X default, will use AAT. This includes the Arabic-aware Nisus Express, as well as all the programs that do not care especially for Arabic although they support it.

In these programs, OpenType fonts will appear in the font list and the Arabic characters will be displayed, but only as isolate forms: the program does not understand the OpenType indication of how to combine them.

This, incidentally, is why Safari suddenly stops displaying Arabic properly when you install Microsoft Office 2004: That also installs versions of Arial and Times New Roman that contains Arabic characters, but in OpenType format (as in Windows). Web pages will routinely ask for Times New Roman even for Arabic text, and as it exists on your machine and contains Arabic characters, Safari will go ahead and display those. But because this (Microsoft) font is based on OpenType, the Arabic letters it contains do not combine into words. You must dump the Microsoft version of these two fonts, and replace them with the older, Apple, version of the same fonts, which did not have any Arabic. Safari will then pick another, working, Arabic font to display the text of the website. -- Firefox, which supports OpenType ligatures, and other browsers do not have this issue.

(*) To be obnoxiously precise, the two formats differ in that AAT bases its context analysis (how letters combine) on commands inside each font; while OpenType fonts are actually simpler, as they largely refer to a common system resource called Uniscribe (a Microsoft product). It is this Uniscribe resource that does not yet, in its Mac version, contain the resources required for Arabic, whether that is Apple's or Microsoft's fault. Once a system version appears where this is in place, all existing OpenType fonts should start working properly.



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Display Arabic correctly In Safari
Authored by: palahala on Oct 22, '09 04:09:19AM

The article as referred to in the hint has moved to Arabic fonts for the Mac - further detail.

As a side note: even in 2009's Snow Leopard there's still Unicode rendering issues for some fonts (at least for Trebuchet MS). See How do I create Unicode smilies like ٩(̮̮̃̃)۶ at Super User (and, be sure to compare your browser's output to the image in one of the answers).



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