Bidaya Production Team Returned from NY after Training at Sesame Street Studios

05 Jan 2014

Iftah Ya Simsim, an educational initiative of Sesame Workshop

This week, 15 Arab producers and writers, from Bidaya, the team behind the Iftah Ya Simsim Educational Initiative, returned back after a major event in training and capacity building strategy. The group visited the Sesame Street studio for up-close training in educational methodology and production techniques.

Iftah Ya Simsim, the local adaptation of the classic award-winning children’s program Sesame Street, is now in pre-production and is expected to debut on multiple GCC channels in late 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 for the Arab Gulf States. Bidaya is based at twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media and creative hub. twofour54’s television and film services arm, 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 Program Production Institution (JPPI), the organization which originally worked with Sesame Workshop on the first Iftah Ya Simsim program 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. “The Bidaya team, which is comprised of creative and innovative Arab talents 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,” said Dr. Cairo Arafat, Managing Director, Bidaya Media. Bidaya’s inaugural project, Iftah Ya Simsim, utilizes a proven model formulated by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization 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. “We recognize media’s potential as an educational tool,” said Dr. Ali Al Karni, Director General of ABEGS, “especially as new technologies are attracting our children’s attention.” He added, “Iftah Ya Simsim is one of our proud traditions celebrating our respect for education and our love for children.” Iftah Ya Simsim will be supported by an Educational Advisory Council (EAC) to be comprised of educational experts and media professionals. Initial support for Bidaya comes through a sponsorship from Mubadala Development Company as part of its commitment to foster education among youth.

A new website, will be launched in the upcoming year, that will include 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 that will enable all followers to keep an eye on the updates of their favourite show “Iftah Ya Simsim”.

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