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Middle East Elmo

Last updated: 2003-10-21

Elmo going to the Middle East


Big Bird, Elmo and other characters from Sesame Street are heading to the Middle East to educate children in a unique joint initiative involving Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

The makers of Sesame Street, the Sesame Workshop is bringing Sesame Stories to the Middle East with help and support from the European Union.

Sesame Stories aims to show children positive images of themselves and their neighbours and seeks to encourage the children to appreciate similarities and differences in their own culture and others.

The show is aimed at four to seven year olds and as well as tradional much loved favourties, the Middle East versions will have their own unique characters.

Each country will have its own theme but will share similar storylines. In Jordan, it wil be called Hikayat Simsim, In Israel Sippuray Sumsum and Hikayat Simsim in Palestine.

The project is funded by the EU as well as local partners and other donors.

“Working with children today will help build peace tomorrow,” said Michael Leigh, Deputy Director General for the Middle East in the European Commission External Relations Directorate General. “The Sesame Stories project is an inspiring initiative which should help build understanding and mutual respect."

“Sesame Stories is the cornerstone and model for Sesame Workshop’s global initiative to produce educational media with a specific focus on respect and understanding,” said Gary E. Knell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sesame Workshop. “Sesame Stories strives to counter the negative images that children see on television everyday and offer hope for a better world."

“For years, television programs have been doing a great job in teaching children the alphabet,” said Khaled Haddad, Executive Producer of the Jordanian Hikayat Simsim. “But Jordan’s Hikayat Simsim does much more—it teaches children the ‘alphabet’ of life by delivering messages of hope, and of respect and understanding.”

“We have the privilege of producing and broadcasting for the most vulnerable audience—preschool children,” said Alona Abt, Executive Director of Israel’s Sippuray Sumsum. “This privilege also obliges us to try and use the media in the most innovative ways to make a truly worthy contribution."

“We are proud to have been able to produce this high quality series dealing with issues of culture and pride, as well as respecting the other, despite the difficult circumstances that we and our children are going through,” said Daoud Kuttab, Executive Producer of the Palestinian Hikayat Simsim.