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Twenty-five years after being bombed off the air, the Arabic version of “Sesame Street” is back

This Jan. 24, 2011 file photo shows "Sesame Street" muppet Elmo posing for a portrait with the assistance of puppeteer Kevin Clash in the Fender Music Lodge during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival to promote the documentary "Being Elmo" in Park City, Utah
AP Photo/Victoria Will
Elmo is back.
  • Aamna Mohdin
By Aamna Mohdin

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Kids across the Middle East can once again enjoy watching the Arabic version of Sesame Street.

Iftah Ya Simsim—which translates to “open sesame”—first aired in 1979 as the iconic children’s show’s first international co-production, but was dramatically taken off the air when its studios in Kuwait were bombed during the Gulf War in 1990.  This is the original:

The show now returns after a 25-year hiatus:

The re-launched show—now based in the United Arab Emirates—will be broadcast across nine channels in September and include beloved characters such as Elmo and the Cookie Monster, as well as region-specific characters, such as the camel, No’maan. As well as bringing back popular local characters, the revived show will have a few new additions to the cast.

Iftah Ya Simsim will tackle a number of social issues, such as obesity and diabetes, while also promoting literacy and math. The educational curriculum that the show is based on took two years to develop with contributions from 100 child education and development experts, Gulf News reports. Cairo Arafat, managing director of one of the producers, Bidaya Media, told the New York Times that the show fills an important gap in television as it not only addresses the needs of children in the region, but also does so in Arabic.

After a development process that took several years, it’s pretty sweet that those who watched Iftah Ya Simsim in the 1980s can finally share it with their children.

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