H. E. Noura Al Kaabi’s address at the official launch of Iftah Ya Simsim


01 Sep 2015

CEO of twofour54, H. E. Noura Al Kaabi, addressed guests at the official launch of Iftah Ya Simsim, held at Mubarak bin Mohammed School

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Our founding father Zayed was passionate about many things…equality, justice, the environment, healthcare. But his passion for education was unbridled. Since the very foundation of the UAE, education of the UAE’s children has been, and continues to be, a cornerstone of the UAE’s strategy for development and prosperity.

But how do we educate our children? Educating our children is not restricted to parenting, the family unit, and class curriculum any more. Our children now have a much broader sphere of influence…and the media industry, along with globalisation, is driving it.

In the UAE, we are embracing technology at a pace. 92% of people in the UAE are actively using the internet. Our mobile phone penetration rate, at 200% is one of the highest in the world. Tablets are an essential piece of the technology kit that often our kids are teaching us how to use.

Today, childhood is a very different experience to that of generations past. Our children now have a much wider range of content choices than ever before, many which originate outside the Arab world and many of which are not in our mother tongue. While there is, of course, merit in exposing children to cultures outside of our own to learn more about the world and its peoples, this must not be at the expense of understanding our own cultural heritage and traditions.

So we must ask ourselves…how do we make sure that influences from outside the Arab world are balanced with culturally relevant, appropriate and educationally-led content that will teach our children and instill in them Arab culture, language and values? The answer is, again, media.

The very channels and platforms that are bringing new influences to our children are providing new ways to engage our children in our customs and share our stories. No more are children limited to hard copy books or television shows. Through new platforms and technologies, the media industry is enabling a whole new way of learning.

twofour54 exists to grow a sustainable media industry that contributes culturally and economically to the nation’s future. Currently we are home to 350 media companies and around 400 freelancers focusing on content creation. We have a long held commitment to creating Arab content to meet the needs of the 400 million Arab speakers in the world. twofour54 has many wonderful examples of Arabic-led content created which you can see on the screen behind me.

And now, we can add one of the best known children’s brands in the world to this list…Iftah Ya Simsim.
At a time when our children are accessing more non-Arab content and the use of our language is declining, I am truly excited about the potential for this programme to educate and unite a new generation of Arabs in our culture and our language. In fact, I am so excited about its return that I have already booked in to babysit my niece on Friday when Iftah Ya Simsim returns to our television screen, to make sure that it is me who introduces her to this seminal show.

Iftah Ya Simsim is more than an educational, cultural entertainment success story in the making. Looking again through a different lens, the Iftah Ya Simsim project exemplifies the success of Abu Dhabi’s media industry ecosystem: world class content created by collaborative media companies and talent that twofour54 and its campus partners have helped to develop, using the facilities that we have built such as the studios and post production house. This is what twofour54, as the enabler of Abu Dhabi’s media industry, has been working towards.

Before I introduce a clip from the new show, I would like to go back to the words of our founding father:
“Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world.”

Part of that preparation is to ensure that our children are instilled with the customs and values that we hold dear, to give them an anchor as they find their way in an increasingly globalised world. The media industry gives us new tools to do this. We must remember that our stories have not changed, simply the channels we can use to capture, share and pass them on to the next generation and beyond.

And now we can see how these educational, cultural and media elements all come together in the new Iftah Ya Simsim programme, in this short cut from the show…Thank you

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