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Alam Simsim

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Alam Simsim
عالم سمسم
Country of originEgypt
Original languageEgyptian Arabic
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesAl Karma Edutainment
Sesame Workshop
Original release
ReleaseAugust 2000 (2000-08) –
May 2017 (2017-05)

Alam Simsim (Arabic: عالم سمسم) is an Arabic language Egyptian co-production of the children's television series Sesame Street.[1] Alam Simsim is Arabic for "Sesame World".

The show, funded by the U.S. Government's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is a cooperative project between Egypt's AlKarma Edutainment and the USA's Sesame Workshop (formerly Children's Television Workshop).[2][3]

Production history[edit]

The show debuted in late 2000, and now has more than 240 episodes.[2][4][5]

Satellite broadcaster Future Television of Lebanon picked up the show in November 2005, expanding possible viewership to more than 200 million viewers in the Arab States.[2][6] The series was dubbed into Classical Arabic and local live-action content was filmed for different countries.[2][6]

Characters and location[edit]

The show is set in the imaginary Alam Simsim (Sesame World) neighborhood in Egypt, which looks like a greener version of Old Cairo. The neighborhood is centered on a small public square surrounded by a park. The public square includes a store owned by 'Am Girgas (a Coptic grocer)[7] and a carpenter's shop owned by 'Am Hussein, while the apartments above the stores are occupied by 'Am Hussein's family: his wife, 'Ama Kheireya, his teenage daughter Mona, and his young son Kareem. A nearby library is run by a young woman named Nabila.[8] The humans are referred to as 'Am and 'Ama, which are "Uncle" and "Aunt" in Egyptian Arabic. These titles denote familiarity common in Egyptian neighborhoods.[9]

The show also includes three main Muppet characters who interact with the humans in the neighborhood. Nimnim ("tiny") is a large green furry creature who wears a cap from upper Egypt and a patterned vest. He is a somewhat gentle and naive creature who enjoys gardening.[2][10] Khokha ("peach") is a furry orange-pink four-year-old monster with long black hair.[2][11] She is a very inquisitive, imaginative and confident character, created to encourage young girls.[10][12] Filfil ("pepper") is a bearded furry purple monster who often gets carried away with himself. He is a bit egotistical and loves to eat honey-sesame sticks.[9][13]

Alam Simsim reuses sketches from other versions of Sesame Street, which are dubbed into Egyptian Arabic. Segments which include American Muppets change their names: Ernie and Bert are known as Shadi and Hadi, Elmo is called Tohfa (antique), Telly Monster becomes Mosaad, and Grover is called Jafaar. Kermit, however, retains his original name.[10]


The show featured several real-life guests in their episodes. Laura Bush and Suzanne Mubarak appeared in a segment with Khokha, which was filmed in 2005.[14]

Messaging and impact[edit]

The show, in addition to teaching basic literacy and mathematics, also focuses on regional issues, including gender equality, girls' education, and health and hygiene. In addition, the program showcases Egyptian culture and communities, including Christian and Muslim celebrations.[15] In 2006 AlKarma Edutainment worked with Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs to create public service announcements featuring the Alam Simsim characters to raise awareness about avian influenza and how to avoid contracting it.[16]

Studies have found that children who watch the program do show improvement in literacy and math skills, and caregivers who watch the program show some modifications in their parenting styles.[3] Viewership is also correlated with gender-equitable views and with girls' interest in education and professional careers.[17][18] A 2013 study found that children's exposure to the program was significantly associated with learning.[19][20]


The show became very popular in Egypt after Suzanne Mubarak, Egypt's First Lady, became involved with the program in 2000.[2][15] 98% of Egyptian households were viewing the program by 2001.[2]

Outreach initiative[edit]

In December 2002 Sesame Workshop began an outreach initiative to further the show's educational impact.[2][21] This initiative was more geared toward parents and caregivers, and focused on health, hygiene, and nutrition.[21] Materials included flashcards, story booklets, and calendars.[21]

According to a 2004 study, the initiative had a substantial positive impact on caregivers, especially when it came to knowledge about hygiene and vaccines. However, many of the families involves in the initiative and in the study were poorer, and thus were not able to actually implement some of the changes they had learned about, such as buying toothbrushes or fresh produce. There was also a positive impact found on the children in the initiative, who reported more frequent hand and face washing.[1][21]


  1. ^ a b "Impact Data - Alam Simsim Outreach Program". The Communication Initiative Network. 27 October 2005. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Alam Simsim". The Communication Initiative Network. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  3. ^ a b DeMott, Rick (14 December 2006). "Sesame Street's Grows In The Middle East". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  4. ^ Al Mahdy, Dina (2018-10-14). "Zeinab Mobarak's Writing Journey; Alam Simsim and Beyond". Women of Egypt Mag. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  5. ^ "Sesame power for Egyptian girls". BBC News. 26 April 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-01-14. Retrieved 2023-03-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ a b Guider, Elizabeth (2005-11-10). "Futura opens door to 'Sesame' in Arabic". Variety. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  7. ^ "Arabic "Sesame Street" Inspires Girls Across Egypt". USAID. 2006-08-12. Archived from the original on 12 August 2006. Retrieved 2023-03-13.
  8. ^ "Open Sesame". Al-Ahram Weekly. 29 November 2001. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved 27 March 2007.
  9. ^ a b "Future TV". Archived from the original on July 21, 2006. Retrieved August 13, 2006.
  10. ^ a b c Belz, Leigh (28 March 2000). "Sesame Street Beat Newsletter". Sesame Workshop. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
  11. ^ "Meet Sesame Street's Global Cast of Characters". Smithsonian Magazine. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  12. ^ "Middle East and North Africa | Sesame Workshop". www.sesameworkshop.org. 15 December 2022. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  13. ^ "Co-Production Home - Egypt". Archived from the original on May 2, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
  14. ^ "Laura Bush and Suzanne Mubarak appear as guests on the Egyptian children's television program "Alam Simsim" with the show's character Khokka at Studio Misr in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, May 23, 2005. White House photo by Krisanne Johnson". georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  15. ^ a b "ABCNEWS.com : Arabic 'Sesame Street' Targets Girls". ABC News. 2000-11-02. Archived from the original on 2000-11-02. Retrieved 2023-03-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ Igniting the power of community : the role of CBOs and NGOs in global public health. Paul A. Gaist. New York: Springer. 2010. p. 289. ISBN 978-0-387-98157-4. OCLC 663097161.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ Girls' education in the 21st century : gender equality, empowerment, and growth. Mercy Tembon, Lucia Fort. Washington, DC: World Bank. 2008. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-8213-7475-7. OCLC 277098124.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  18. ^ Moland, Naomi A. (2020). Can Big Bird fight terrorism? : children's television and globalized multicultural education. New York, NY. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-19-090395-4. OCLC 1112424155.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ Rimal, Rajiv N.; Figueroa, Maria Elena; Storey, J. Douglas (May 2013). "Character Recognition as an Alternate Measure of Television Exposure Among Children: Findings From the Alam Simsim Program in Egypt". Journal of Health Communication. 18 (5): 594–609. doi:10.1080/10810730.2012.743625. ISSN 1081-0730. PMID 23402271. S2CID 43060003 – via PubMed.
  20. ^ "Research with Egyptian Preschoolers Produces New Instrument for Program Exposure". Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2023-01-03.
  21. ^ a b c d "Alam Simsim Outreach Program Impact Report". The Communication Initiative Network. 27 October 2005. Retrieved 2023-01-03.

External links[edit]