Muppets help conflict kids in new Arabic 'Sesame Street'

A band of Muppets, both old favourites and new friends, will star in an Arabic retooling of "Sesame Street" with a regional twist.

In its Western iterations, the long-running franchise addresses issues including family breakdown. The new Middle East version instead seeks to help children, especially young Syrian refugees, cope with emotions.

New characters will join Cookie Monster (Kaa'ki), Grover (Gargur), Elmo and others in the new show in Arabic, called "Ahlan Simsim!" (Welcome Sesame).

"We always play and sing and try new things and have many adventures," new puppet Basma, a five-year-old purple girl with a twin twist hairstyle, told AFP on a publicity tour in Dubai.

"We have a lot of friends in the neighbourhood, but Jad is my best friend," she added of her new co-star, a yellow boy with a tuft of canary-coloured hair.

Basma, Jad and their gluttonous goat friend Ma'zooza, will take to the airwaves six days a week on Middle East satellite channel MBC 3 from Feb. 2.
The show is a partnership between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Sesame Workshop, which is responsible for the programme worldwide.

The aim is to offer "nurturing care to children and caregivers affected by the Syrian conflict", according to a statement.

Since erupting in 2011, the war has displaced over 5.1 million Syrian children, with 2.5 million of them now living in regional host countries including Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

'Emotional ABCs'

"Jad and I are not that similar. He is an artist and a painter. I love to sing and dance and he likes things in order. He thinks and plans while I get bored," said Basma.

"Sesame Street" mainstay Grover, meanwhile, sets out to interview children from...

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