Arabic dots are diacritics and should be treated as diacritics, period.
Warning, a long and boring reading below.
I've been interested in the history of Bulaq Press in general, and the typefaces used there in particular, as I started working on my Bulaq revival font project.
I found two very valuable books about the subject; The History of Bulaq Press a master's thesis by Abu-Alfutuh Radwan, and Bulaq Press published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
I've been quiet about my traditional, naskh-like Arabic font project for a while, but it was slowly progressing.
There are many legacy Arabic fonts floating on the web that can't be used in free operating systems, those fonts predate Unicode and OpenType and can only be used in MS Windows. There seem not exist any documentation of any kind regarding those fonts, and I had to guess how it is supposed to work. Out of boredom (and because someone asked me if there is a way to use those fonts in GNU/Linux), I wrote a Python script using FontForge's Python interface to convert them to Unicode with necessary OpenType layout to render them correctly.
I was trying to change the math font used in plain TeX (as opposed to LaTeX or ConTeXt), but I didn't seem to find it documented any where, apparently it is so obvious for TeXperts to be even documented. Anyway, I figured it out and I'm documenting it here so I don't have to search it again.
Set font families 0-3 to the new font, as follows:
0: math text ("sin", "cos", numbers, etc.)
1: math italic ("x", "y", "z", etc. don't have to be italic at all e.g. Euler)
2: math symbols
3: math extensions
\textfont: normal size font
\scriptfont: font for sub/super script
It has been long since last time I posted here, and there has been many recent developments.
I started a project to for digitisation of the standard Arabic typeface developed and used by Al-Amiria printing in Cairo from around 20s to 70s of the last century that was widely used in other governmental printing houses as well. The project has been funded by TUG, see the google code page of the project for more details (and if you want to donate to the project ;).)
'Update: I rewrote this post and changed its title from Pango vs.
Nafees Nastaleeq font is a great Nasta`liq (AKA Farsi) style font that supports mainly Urdu but some Arabic characters still missing. The font is very carefully designed and looks almost like hand written calligraphy, I'm really impressed by the amount of effort spent to develop such font. What impresses me more is that the latest version was released under a free license.