Sara Mustafa


I see myself as a person who tries to build on knowledge and skills with each opportunity I have. I consider myself as a very round cultured person. I was born in Montreal, lived in Dubai and have Palestinian decent; therefore I believe my exposure to different cultures is one of my strongest attributes. I am enjoying being able to constantly learn, and hope to continue using my skills in design.

How would you describe your design style?


What was the most intense deadline you’ve had to make?

Reprint a whole project in one night!

What is the most useful piece of design advice that you have received?

I was once told to look at the bigger picture in a geometric way, by seeing images as lines and circles rather than the image itself.

How would you describe the colour yellow to someone who has never seen it?

How you would feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.


Design Interests

Branding and Identity Design
UI/UX Design
Information Design
Design Studies and Theory

Find me



The Art of The Middle Eastern Gesture

I am first and foremost a design thinker, keeping my focus on the design process. Which is why I found it important to study my topic before I began making design decisions.

The Arabic culture shares beliefs and values that are found throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. I began researching common and un-common as well as formal and informal gestures and facial expressions that can contribute to the culture. Whether these gestures are used to help in communication and how they were passed down through generations. I was very interested to learn more about how modern society was shaping these gestures and look into psychological testing on gestures. I also led my research into a religious direction, where I looked into how a number of semiotic gestures extend beyond a simple series or message and take on a religious and cultural significance, as well as what the roles of different ages groups and genders are in gestural language.

A few values in the Arabic culture include honor, hospitality, and family. Since this is a part of my culture and I incorporate these gestures in my everyday life, I became quickly invested in how gestures contribute to the way I communicate. Are gestures a method of communicating from childhood or is this a habit that can be rehabilitated? Was one of my main focuses within my research, even though it doesn’t directly contribute to the design aspect.

The idea that gestures have evolved from a primary mode of communication is centuries old, leading back to the times of ancient Greece and when gestures were ways in which communication would be enhanced, as they did not have any sound projecting devices. Nonverbal communication can either support speech, provide feedback, express emotion convey attitudes and information about personality, all of which can contribute to the process of communication.

My goal was to create a fun tool for tourists or non-tourists visiting Middle Eastern countries to take back home with them, and feel closer to and more familiar with the culture.

Book Trailer

I took the knowledge I knew and grew up with, the primary and secondary research that I constructed and chose fifty gestures, facial gestures, and body language to create the content of my book. I began the process of establishing the foundation of the book which are the pictures. I chose someone with character and that I have seen use a lot of these gestures in her everyday communication. After several photo-shoots I was able to combine the final images for the book. I was very happy with the humor they portrayed as they express the exact emotion I wish the readers would feel. The process of creating this book taught me a lot more about design than I already knew, I was torn between many decisions for the final printed copy, such as whether I wanted it to be a hardcover or not. I felt as time was passing I was changing a lot of my initial decisions. I created a book trailer that portrays similar emotions that come from the book.

I hope that this will be as fun of an experience for the user as it was for me creating it and that they can take a little bit of the culture with them.

See more of my work at the graduate showcase