The team behind the Iftah Ya Simsim educational initiative , consisting of 15 Arab producers and writers, visited the Sesame Street studio in New York for an up-close training session in educational methodology and production techniques.
Iftah Ya Simsim, the local adaptation of the classic award-winning children’s programme Sesame Street, is now in pre-production and is expected to debut on multiple GCC channels in the latter half of 2014.
The team is part of a new production company called Bidaya (Arabic for beginning), which aims to create high-quality educational media content in Arabic. Bidaya is based at Abu Dhabi’s media and creative hub, twofour54. The television and film services arm of twofour54, Intaj, will be handling the post-production of the show and the studio location.
The workshop was also attended by representatives from the GCC Joint Programme Production Institution (JPPI), the organisation which worked on the first Iftah Ya Simsim programme  in 1980.
“We are happy to share our experience to help this new crop of creative producers entertain and educate our children as we did 30 years ago,” said Ali Al Rayyes, JPPI’s managing director.
Dr Cairo Arafat, managing director, Bidaya Media, said: “The Bidaya team, which comprises of creative and innovative Arabs, were thrilled to be in New York at the Sesame Street studio and workshop. They learned about the process and techniques behind Sesame Street, the most beloved children’s program in television history,”
Bidaya’s inaugural project, Iftah Ya Simsim, utilises a proven model formulated by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation whose global mission is to help all children reach their highest potential.
Bidaya is also coordinating its efforts with the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (Abegs), which has been the key partner in developing the overall curriculum and educational objectives of the new Iftah Ya Simsim and related content.
Iftah Ya Simsim will be supported by an Educational Advisory Council (EAC), which will comprise of educational experts and media professionals. Initial support for Bidaya is through a sponsorship from Mubadala Development Company as part of its commitment to foster education among youth.
A new website will be launched this year, where workshops, master classes, creative designs, surveys, curriculum and research will be posted. Bidaya also will engage creative, education and family communities through its social media pages, which will enable followers to keep a track on the developments.