50s to 90s

Behind the Scenes with Iftah Ya Simsim

For kids who grew up in Kuwait back in the 80s, Iftah Ya Simsim was our Sesame Street and one of our favorite shows. We looked forward to every episode and I think every kid wished they would end up on it one day. Maybe the only other show we wanted to be on more was Mama Anisa, but Iftah Ya Simsim looked like a lot of fun and we all wanted to meet the muppets Nu’man and Malsoon.

The show started filming at the Kuwait Television Studios back in 1978 and then released in 1979 before stopping production in 1989 due to the Gulf War. It never resumed again but the show did continue to live on in the hearts of every 80s kid.

Recently I came into possession of behind the scenes photos from Iftah ya Simsim. Some I had seen before and some not, but even the ones I had seen I hadn’t since in this quality before which is why I wanted to share them.

Malsoon the parrot was played by a Syrian actor called Tawfiq Al Asha, you can see him in one of the photos standing behind Malsoon. Tawfiq sadly passed away in 2018. Nu’man on the other hand was played by Kuwaiti actor Abdullah Hubail, and he’s on Instagram @abdullah_alhubail.

11 replies on “Behind the Scenes with Iftah Ya Simsim”

Iftah ya Simsim, Mama Anissa and that other craft & arts show for children by a local artiste whose name escapes me now were the trending shows among the Atfal back then without any of them realising that they were. Good fun and less complicated times to grow up!

Though not a show, my favourite was the Grendizer cartoon, early in the morning, during the summer vacation. All of us children would be glued to the telly to watch it. Even breakfast could wait until the cartoon was over! It didn’t matter that we couldn’t understand Arabic – the narrative was always crystal clear.

A few years ago my uncle told me he helped design the set of the show, and he also had a small cameo on one of the episodes! I actually found that cameo on YouTube, and it was awesome to see

Grendizer & Rajul el hadeedi were my favourites. As kids we had such limited screen time back then. If I remember correctly, KTV 2 would come on air only at 7 pm or thereabouts. For some reason they had a strong aversion to having announcements in English for an English language channel. Always found that a bit odd.

Thanks Mark! everything you said is totally true, I hope they can bring it back to life, especially with the kind of cartoons we have right now, sadly no added value to our kids.

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