x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Sesame Street to be produced in Arabic by Abu Dhabi company

Arabic version of popular children's show was previously made in Kuwait until 1984.

Michelle Hickey, a Muppet wrangler, helps Big Bird hold a book during a rehearsal of Sesame Street in New York.
Michelle Hickey, a Muppet wrangler, helps Big Bird hold a book during a rehearsal of Sesame Street in New York.

A new Arabic version of the popular children's television show Sesame Street is to be made by an Abu Dhabi-based company.

Ali Al Qarni, the director general of the GCC Arab Education Bureau, who led the development of the show's educational curriculum, would not disclose the name of the production company, but said that "there will be a relationship established soon".

Mr Al Qarni said: "Sesame Street's mother company is about to finalise the deal with a company in Abu Dhabi, but I'm not sure if they have closed it yet or not."

The educational content of the show was approved by bosses in New York six months ago, he said. They plan to give those guidelines to the TV production company and "from time to time make quality control visits".

This will be the second time Sesame Street will be produced in the GCC. It went off air in 1984 after being produced in Kuwait for five years.

According to Mr Al Qarni, the show - Iftah Ya Simsim in Arabic - is a "necessary programme" to bring back to the region.

"It's a very good educational tool, and it can be adapted to send positive messages to our youth in a way that is digestible," he said. Mr Al Qarni added: "what matters the most" is that the curriculum is specifically targeted at the Gulf region, and is in Arabic.

"It's a very exciting education initiative. I like it."

molson@thenational.ae