Open Sesame

In 1979, Iftah Ya Simsim - the Arabic version of Sesame Street - aired for the first time. Over the next ten years, the show was loved by children across the Arab world, until 1990, when the show was pulled off the air as a result of the Gulf War.

But Ammar Al Sabban, a young boy growing up watching the show in Jeddah, never forgot the impact his favourite characters had on him. In this episode, we hear Ammar’s story of he dropping his entire life to pursue a childhood dream - to become a puppeteer on Iftah Ya Simsim.

Episode Credits & Notes

Thank you to everybody who sent us their memories of Iftah Ya Simsim: Bader Alfarsy, Ltein Alfarsy, Lilian Yasser, Sallah Al Yasser, Rym Ghazal, Hayat Abdel-Saheb, and Lina Bharnawi. Thank you also to Cole del Charco for helping us record Michael’s interview. Michael Davis’ book, which chronicles the story of Sesame Street, is called Street Gang.

Produced by Hebah Fisher and Alex Atack, with help from Alexandra Chaves and with editorial support from Dana Ballout. Sound design by Mohamed Khreizat.


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