Iftah Ya Simsim returns to Middle East TV screens


Rebecca Hawkes

| 02 September 2015

The locally produced Arabic version of Sesame Street, Iftah Ya Simsim, will return to Middle Eastern and North African TV screens this September after a break of 25 years.

The new Iftah Ya Simsim castTargeting children aged four to six, the new series of Iftah Ya Simsim, comprising 28 episodes, has been developed by children's content creation company and producer Bidaya Media, the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS), the GCC Joint Program Production Institute (JPPI) and Abu Dhabi's media production zone twofour54.

Including popular Muppet characters No'man, Shams, Melsoon and Gargur, the series has new, original songs, rhymes and animated segments issuing a strong focus on Arabic words and concepts.

Speaking at the show's launch, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, director general of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), said: "We have been working alongside Bidaya Media and other key partners from the very beginning, putting immense work and hours into research, planning and organising the educational curriculum of the new Iftah Ya Simsim to ensure that the children around the region can easily relate to the local stories and characters.

"We're delighted that the new Iftah Ya Simsim is finally being aired, and that our efforts are ready to translate into the holistic development of the Arab child in the region."

The show will air across the Middle East from 4 September and North Africa from 5 September onwards, on nine national and regional broadcast stations.

"When Sesame Street debuted in 1969, our goal was to better prepare children for school in the US. The founders never dreamed that the television show they created would reach children in 150 countries, some with their very own locally produced Sesame Street," said Steve Youngwood, COO, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street.

"Through the tireless work of Bidaya Media, ABEGS, JPPI, twofour54 and our wonderful partners on the ground, we are producing and delivering content that promotes the heritage, language and culture of the region, and helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder."