Iftah Ya Simsim was the Kuwaiti coproduction of Sesame Street. The series debuted in the fall of 1979, and and was the first Sesame co-production in Arabic. There were 130 half-hour episodes produced and broadcast on a weekday basis in various Arabic countries.
The show's title means "Open Sesame," but the neighborhood itself is called Shari’ 'lshrin (translated as "Twentieth Street"). Key locations include the juice stand Khalil's Refreshments, located at No. 8, and Hisham's Shop, at No. 4, which sells newspapers. The large house on No. 3 is the home of Hamad the engineer and his wife, Fatima the teacher. Their next-door neighbor is Laila the nurse, and beyond is a small park. The park contains a playground, fountain, and garden, and attracts the local children. The grandfatherly peddler Abdullah plies his trade there, selling toys, books, and games from his pushcart and regaling the kids with stories. 
The Arab states of the Persian Gulf Joint Program Production Institution bought the co-production rights for a nine-year period in 1977. The Children's Television Workshop provided technical assistance, research, and provided a consulting producer. As with other co-productions, CTW also supplied Muppet sketches, cartoons, and film inserts, which were then selected and dubbed into Arabic. The studio "street" scenes were taped between May and December 1978. Although produced in Kuwait, much like the original version of Plaza Sésamo, the series was intended for the entire Arab-speaking world, and the cast included a mixture of Kuwaitis, Saudi Arabians, Iraquis, and children from twelve different Arab countries, including Algeria.
In 1990, during the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi forces invading Kuwait captured videotapes of the series and the Nu'man costume and brought them back to Iraq before being drivin out by US forces. In 2003, Iraq was invaded by US forces but they have never been able to find the videotapes nor the Nu'man costume. To this day, the video tapes and the Nu'man costume remain unrecoverd.
In 2011, it was announced that the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States will be creating a new version for the Gulf nations.
2011 AdvertisementIftah Ya Simsim Commercial (2011)(01:02)
In 2011, a Kuwaiti telephone company recreated the characters and used them in a commercial. They also produced promotion plush and a 1 GB Nu'man USB flash drive.
- Abdullah Hubail as No'Man
- Tawfiq al-Asha as Melsoon
- Abdul Majid Quasim as Khalil
- Ahmad al-Salah as Abdullah
- Jasim Nabban as Hamad
- Ahlam Salah as Fatima
- Sana Younus as Laila
- Ka'id al-Na'Mani as Hisham
- Executive Producer: Ibrahim al-Yusuf
- Chief Producer: Faisal al-Yasiri
- Chief Writer: Yasir al-Malih
- Associate Research Directors: Dr. Abdullah al-Dannan (linguistics), Dr. Said Abdul Rahman (psychological and educational affairs)
- ↑ Tracy, William. "Sesame Opens!", Aramco World Magazine, Volume 30, No. 5. September/October 1979.
- ↑ Christensen, Jen. "Reaching the next generation with 'Muppet diplomacy'", CNN.com. August 13, 2009.
- ↑ "20 years on, ‘Iftah Ya Simsim’ coming back to educate Gulf" June 5, 2011