Kids on steps with Jad.

Middle East and North Africa

Using media, playful learning, and caregiver support to help children in the region learn, connect, and build resilience

Across the Middle East and in North Africa, Sesame Workshop helps children gain academic and social-emotional skills and build resilience — including in areas affected by conflict and displacement — all with Sesame’s trademark mix of beloved characters and wholehearted joy.

We have a long history of making localized content in the region: Iftah Ya Simsim premiered in the Middle East in 1979, followed by local Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli versions of Sesame Street. Today, the Arabic-language Sesame Street, Ahlan Simsim, is produced in Amman and brought to life by a creative team from across the region as part of our broader Ahlan Simsim program.

Since 2011, the Syrian conflict has displaced more than 12 million people, among them 5 million children. With an unprecedented investment from the MacArthur Foundation and further support from the LEGO Foundation, Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee created Ahlan Simsim (“Welcome Sesame” in Arabic), a groundbreaking program delivering vital early learning and nurturing care to children and caregivers. With the Ahlan Simsim TV show airing across the Middle East and North Africa, and play-based learning and caregiver support in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, Ahlan Simsim brings families educational resources that can help them thrive.

In Iraq, we’re working with USAID to extend Ahlan Simsim’s reach with culturally tailored educational media for young children and tools for caregivers and teachers to promote understanding, equity, and tolerance across divides.

The largest early-childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response

Ahlan Simsim

Ahlan Simsim — “Welcome Sesame” in Arabic — offers a warm and joyful welcome to early learning to young children across the Middle East, especially those affected by displacement. Locally relevant characters like Jad, a boy who had to leave his home, and Basma, a gregarious new friend who welcomes him to the neighborhood, invite children in displaced and host communities to see themselves on screen. The newest Ahlan Simsim friend, Ameera, brings visibility to the more than 12 million displaced people with a disability, as well as to the important role of girls in STEM.

23 Million Children Reached
In just 2.5 years of broadcast, Ahlan Simsim has reached 6.4M children in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria and a total of 23 million children across the Middle East and North Africa
Ameera, a green muppet from Ahlan simsim, poses happily in her wheelchair
Featured News
Sesame Workshop Debuts New Muppet as Part of Initiative Supporting Children Affected by Conflict and Crisis

Regional Partners

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