Iftah Ya Simsim

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Iftah Ya Simsim.

Iftah Ya Simsim (Arabic: افتح يا سمسم; meaning "open sesame"‎) is the first Arabic-speaking version of the children's television series Sesame Street. Indoor scenes have been taken in Kuwait, while outdoor scenes were in many Arab countries and the world. Actors, players and children have been selected to represent more than 12 Arab countries.

In May 1977, for $2.5 million, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, or the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Joint Program Production Institution bought the Arab world rights to the Sesame Street concept for a nine-year period, as well as CTW's technical assistance, research and production advice and the services of a resident consulting producer during the production period in Kuwait. Under the agreement, CTW was also to provide 15 hours of cross-cultural material, such as animal or nature films, from the U.S. program, which would be selected by the institution as appropriate for Arab children and dubbed into Arabic at a sound studio in Baghdad. The studio segment of the program was taped in a 5,400-square-foot (500 m2) studio between May and December 1978.

The show premiered in autumn 1979. 130 half-hour episodes were aired five times a week over twenty-six weeks. Following the series, a new version was produced in 1983-1984 with a total of 52 more half-hour episodes.

Iftah Ya Simsim was the first Sesame Street co-production in Arabic, originally intended for pan-Arabian television distribution. Today localised versions of Sesame Street are being produced in the following territories:

It was announced in 2011 that the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States will be creating a new version for the Gulf nations.


  • Nu'Man, a camel equivalent of Big Bird played by Abdullah Hubail, a Kuwaiti
  • Malsun, a light green parrot wearing a tie "played" by Syrian actor Tawfiq al-Asha
  • Yaqut, a lavender monster with a long nose
  • Abla, a large purple cat

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