Muppet Wiki

Basma, Ma'Zooza, and Jad.

Ahlan Simsim (Welcome Sesame) is an Arabic co-production of Sesame Street that premiered on February 2, 2020 on MBC3.[1] The program features "brand-new, Arabic-speaking Muppet characters with storylines that both displaced and host community children can relate to."[2]

The show's first broadcast season in 2019 and second season in 2020 is based around a curriculum regarding emotions.[3] A third season was released in 2021 focusing on life challenges. A forth season was released as well later in 2021.

The series features three original Muppet characters to the series - Basma, Jad (heavily implied to be a refugee child),[3] and Ma'zooza.[1] In addition to human cast members Hadi, Teta Noor and Salma in series 3[3] the series also includes animated characters Abu'l Fihem, the birds Reesheh, Bulbul and Hassoon and the Dabke Dancers alongside localized versions of Grover, Cookie Monster, and Elmo.[1]

The project, originally proposed under the working title "Sesame Seeds," was created for Middle Eastern areas with populations of Syrian refugees, including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. In addition to the main television program, the project has components bringing education to the children of the refuge camps - home visitation and caregiving, the creation of learning centers and through mass media.


Sherrie Westin and Tonton at the MacArthur Foundation presentation in 2017.

Jad and Basma.


The project was created in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where it was entered in the MacArthur Foundation's first-ever "100&Change" competition for a one hundred million dollar grant. The organizations entered the competition in 2016 and out of over 800 applicants, they were named among the eight semi-finalists in February 2017.[4] By September, they were among the top five finalists.[5]

Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President, Global Impact & Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, presented the organization's plan for the project at the MacArthur Foundation's presentation on December 11, 2017, where she was briefly joined onstage by Tonton, of Jordan's Hikayat Simsim.

On December 20, 2017, it was announced that Sesame Workshop and the IRC were the winners of the competition, allowing the project to move forward.[6]

At the 2019 Cannes Lions festival, Sherrie Westin and Brown Johnson unveiled the three new Muppet characters to be used in the series, including a female monster named Basma.[7] Behind-the-scenes production of the series was the focus of a 60 Minutes segment in November 2019.


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