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Iftah ya Simsim


Iftah Ya Simsim, the most popular and successful Arabic children’s television program today in the GCC and MENA regions is back in its 3rd Season. 

This locally created and produced show is based on the concept of Sesame Street, an American early childhood program that has been running for over 50 years. Iftah Ya Simsim is a curriculum and outcomes-based educational program that targets children under 8 years of age.

Iftah ya Simsim

Iftah Ya Simsim focuses on Arabic learning content that is both entertaining and educational for young children. It is a program that believes in children’s innate learning capacity and the importance of developing materials that engage children in a proactive and interactive manner.  A key concern of parents and educators in the region relates to the lack of quality educational content for children in Arabic that addresses children’s holistic development – physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and moral.  Iftah Ya Simsim emerges from within the heart and soul of the MENA region. The content is specifically designed to be ‘simple, heartfelt, funny, real, and furry,’ so that children can connect to the messages and be able to relate and practice what they learn in their lives. Through Iftah Ya Simsim’s engaging and loveable Muppets – No’man, Shams, Malsoon, Elmo, Kaaki and Gargur – and the human cast, we can help children reach their fullest potential. The show models important skills like self-regulation/executive skills and core social values like sharing, caring, understanding, and respect.

Iftah Ya Simsim program materials grow out of the existing social and cultural milieu of the region. The child is not seen as an isolated individual, but as an integral member of his/her family, immediate community, and the region. Breaking down the barriers of isolation, stigmatization, and hopelessness are most important for children. This is achieved by engaging children into the wonderful and wondrous world of our muppets. These friends engage the child in their world, that is fun and always stimulating, but that also has challenges and problems. The heroes of this world are the children and Muppets who always seem to find a way to understand what is happening around them and come up with positive solutions. They learn to care for one another, ask questions, seek answers, express their emotions, reach out for help, and realize that they can find a way to resolve the problems in their lives. Adults are also familiar with these Muppets who were once their own childhood friends. Hence, the nostalgia of having their own children grow up with these lovable characters is soothing and comforting for adults, too.

The season 3 of the Iftah Ya Simsim show will air in May during Ramadan. It features 52 20-minute episodes centered on developing social skills and behaviors, self-respect and respect for others and resilience in the face of hardships. The new episodes will include character favorites No’man, Shams, Malsoon, Elmo, Ka’aki, Gargur, Habib and a host of others who will encourage children to be good citizens and leaders today and tomorrow.

This season, Iftah ya Simsim will open up its gates to a host of new people and places in an effort to showcase the GCC’s widespread diversity of people and cultures. The upcoming episodes will revolve around three main themes: Relationships, Respect and Resilience. Each episode centers around an emotion and the effect it has on a child and his or her surroundings; some important emotions dealt with include: Anger, Sadness, Happiness, Frustration, Disappointment, Loneliness, Guilt, Pride, Excitement, Jealousy, Fear, Disgust, and Anxiety. Broader themes feature Speaking Up, Staying Hopeful, Recognizing Safe Spaces and Environmental Awareness.

The launch of the show’s third season and its themes coincides with the Year of Tolerance in the UAE and a GCC wide effort to support tolerance and understanding. The segments used to convey these lessons were filmed largely in Abu Dhabi, with some additional recordings in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and employ the talents of people from all over the MENA region and world. Internationally, Iftah Ya Simsim’s themes parallel a global trend of rejecting violence and promoting compassion. Children will learn means of resolving interpersonal conflict by thinking outside the box, using effective language and vocabulary, and managing and understanding their own feelings and those of others.

Children across the Arab world will delight in this season’s 20-minute episodes, which will include:

  • Studio based muppet segments
  • Animated “number of the day” and “letter of the day” segments
  • Songs
  • Live action shorts
  • Animated stories

The third season has also seen a number of special guests dropping by the Simsim Park to help the puppets find their way, including actor Bassel Khayyat, Youtuber Omar Hussein and comedian Hatoon Qadi.

The messages featured this year build on values promoted in previous episodes Iftah ya Simsim continues to empower children to become smarter, stronger, kinder.

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