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Sesame Workshop and Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States Renew MOU for Iftah Ya Simsim

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(Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., June 30, 2014) Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS) renewed its partnership for Iftah Ya Simsim, continuing to design an educational framework that will bring back the beloved children’s television series to the GCC. Iftah Ya Simsim, targeted to children ages 4-6 and produced by Bidaya Media (especially created to develop the initiative), is now in production and expected to debut across the region in early 2015.

“Renewing our partnership is a testament to international cooperation on best practices in educational media,” said Dr. Ali Al Karni, the Director General of ABEGS. “As with the original Iftah, the educational framework guides the great creative work that Sesame Workshop and the Bidaya team are now developing. ABEGS will continue to support the initiative through research and development of educational objectives and promoting the integration of Iftah content in learning environments.” Dr. Ali is also a member of the Bidaya Education Advisory Committee that is composed of 12 Gulf experts in the fields of education, media, language and culture.

Bidaya Media is working to expand the network of regional partners with an interest in educational media. Joint Program Production Institution (JPPI), Sesame Workshop’s production partner from the original Iftah series in 1980, has joined the coalition and will provide both production and distribution support to assure Iftah content reaches the widest possible audiences.

“Working closely with the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, we will be producing content on a variety of platforms with the goal of achieving measurable educational gains for children in early school years,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO of Sesame Workshop.   “The new Iftah Ya Simsim series is a great complement to our continuing efforts to reach more children with engaging lessons that will help them grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”

Bidaya Media is located within twofour54, the Abu Dhabi Media Authority Zone, and continues to recruit talent for the production of Iftah Ya Simsim. Through an intensive regional auditioning process, Bidaya Media recently cast the performers to recreate the original characters from the series. Hundreds of candidates applied for the chance to become the next No’man, the big, gentle curious character who loves learning.

Dr. Cairo Arafat, Bidaya’s Managing Director, said, “It took four years and the passion and commitment of dozens of individuals across international boundaries to bring Iftah Ya Simsim to this point. We have a great opportunity to establish a truly Arabic educational platform for the 21st century child.”

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the landmark television program that reaches millions of children every day in more than 150 countries. The Workshop’s mission is to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential. Delivered through a variety of platforms, Sesame Workshop develops research-based content – including television programs, books, games, mobile apps and community engagement initiatives – that supports early childhood learning, helps prepare children for school, and addresses developmental needs. The Workshop’s programs are tailored to the needs of specific regions and focus on topics that help young children and families develop critical skills for lifelong learning. For more information, visit us at http://www.sesameworkshop.org.

The Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS), located in Riyadh, is an intergovernmental regional organization that works within the six member states, (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman and Qatar). It was founded by the ministers of education in 23/10/1975 to promote cooperation and coordination in the fields of culture, education, science, information and documentation. This has been the mission of the Bureau since its establishment in 1975. The main objectives of ABEGS are to contribute to the unification of the countries and people of the region by providing collaboration among them and developing collective efforts and methods of cooperation in its areas of interest, remains as relevant and necessary as ever.

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