Hikayat Simsim is the Arabic name for the Jordanian co-production of Sesame Street.
The Jordanian version premiered in October, 2003. A second season debuted in January 2007. The third season began production in 2009 and aired in the following spring (28 episodes). The fourth season was produced in 2010.
The main Muppet characters is this version are Juljul and Tonton. Issa Sweidan plays the lovable grandfather figure Jiddo Simsim (which means Grandfather Sesame). Elmo was added to the cast for the fourth season.
Sesame Workshop description
Sesame Workshop and Jordan Pioneers have joined together to create Hikayat Simsim, a multimedia project that presents messages of respect and understanding to young children in the Middle East. The Sesame Street format provides educational material that is culturally relevant to Jordanian children. The content focuses on subjects such as literacy, numeracy, health and hygiene, national identity, needs of Iraqi refugee children, mutual respect, tolerance, and understanding. Sesame Stories (Jordan), or Hikayat Simsim in Arabic, was created, written, and produced by local educators and television professionals. The show combines segments featuring the Sesame Street Muppet characters with animation and mini-documentaries (live action films) to create uniquely entertaining and educational programming. Locally developed characters appeal to preschoolers and engage them with humor relevant to Jordanian culture. Animation and live action pieces introduce Jordanian children to positive images of themselves and others.
The project is funded in large part by project partners. Twenty-six episodes of Hikayat Simsim, co-produced by Sesame Workshop and Jordan Pioneers (Amman), aired in Jordan beginning in October 2003 on Jordan Television, Jordan’s public television station. A community outreach initiative supplements the television series to promote respect and understanding off-screen. In total, two seasons equaling 56 episodes have been completed and season three is hoping to begin production in 2008.
This season overview focused on "Jordanian culture as well as introduce them to different cultures and instill pride in their name and nationality." Other topics include gender roles, school readiness, health and hygiene, respect, understanding tolerance and diversity, child-family community and social relations and culture, and heritage and arts.
This season overview focused on traffic safety. Haddad said about the theme of this season, “Young children in Jordan know traffic lights, but they do not understand crosswalks, or the ‘don’t walk’ light signal. We are going to try to introduce pedestrian behavior to them at an early age." The third season introduces three new human characters on the street: Kamel who runs the neighborhood garage and fix-it shop, Hayat who teaches fitness and exercise in school, and Rahwah who works as a nurse. The neighborhood street is revamp with a new make over. New formatted segments features Juljul as Sahel, or Magic Juljul, in which the Muppet will perform magic tricks while teaching children oral and personal hygiene. Another segment will have Juljul as an investigative reporter, roaming around the neighborhood interviewing children on certain learning subjects such as helping others and acceptance
The fourth season of Hikayat Simsim saw the world’s first Arabic-speaking Elmo. Producers expressed hope that the character, a mainstay on the American Sesame Street and other affiliated programmes, will boost the local and regional profile of Hikayat Simsim. Haddad said that his introduction to the show will be used in lessons on acceptance and cross-cultural understanding.