Ahlan Simsim: Sesame Street's Arabic show to debut in Middle East

Ahlan Simsim is part of an initiative aimed at giving millions of refugee children in the region a learning programme.

    Basma is one of the new Muppets that will be joining the global Sesame Street family for the new show Ahlan Simsim, along with Jad, and Ma'zooza [File: Riccardo Savi/AFP]
    Basma is one of the new Muppets that will be joining the global Sesame Street family for the new show Ahlan Simsim, along with Jad, and Ma'zooza [File: Riccardo Savi/AFP]

    The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop have launched a joint initiative to provide millions of refugee children in the region with an educational programme in Arabic.

    Sesame Workshop - the nonprofit, educational organisation behind Sesame Street - along with IRC, aim to give children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, an opportunity to grow and learn through a new local, Arabic-language version of Sesame Street.

    The partners said in a statement they hope the show, titled Ahlan Simsim, which translates into Welcome Sesame, would help "heal the scars of war".

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    Ahlan Simsim has been in the works for the past year and a half, according to Sesame Workshop, which added that the first season of the show is slated to be aired across the Middle East in February 2020.

    The partners won a $100m MacArthur Foundation award in 2017 for their initiative, which involves the Arabic-language television show, and the development of services that reach refugee children directly, CNN reported.

    The production of the new television show is being done in Jordan, which hosts more than one million Syrian refugees, according to Jordanian authorities.

    "We know how important it is for children to see their own lives and experiences reflected on-screen," Scott Cameron, executive producer of Ahlan Simsim, said in a statement earlier this week.

    "Our characters provide that bridge with the help of extensive research, collaboration, and the magic of Muppets," Cameron said.

    In his statement, Cameron introduced the new Muppets that will be joining the "the global Sesame Street family" - Basma, Jad, and Ma'zooza.

    The organisation held brainstorming sessions in Jordan and Lebanon - which hosts about 1.5 million Syrian refugees - ahead of the show's production with early childhood specialists, play and art therapists, psychologists, and local IRC staff.

    The effort by IRC and Sesame Workshop involve other aspects, including creating "safe spaces" for children to play and learn in year-long preschool classes.

    Other services include parenting sessions, presenting care providers with activity guides, as well as initiative partnerships with governments and local nonprofits to create "lasting solutions for children", the joint statement said.

    The war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions since erupting in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

    Almost half of those displaced from the war are children, according to the IRC.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News