Cartoon Network to air in Arabic

Channel hopes to reach 35 million homes in Middle East and Africa.

The Cartoon Network will soon be offered in Arabic, in hopes of reaching up to 35 million homes in the Middle East and North Africa.
“There’s been a great deal of demand for Arabic content in this region, and launching a 24/7 Arabic Cartoon Network channel is a further testament to our growing investment in the region,” said Chris Groves, senior vice president of Middle East business affairs for the network’s parent company Turner Broadcasting.
Some shows that will become available in Arabic include Ben 10, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
Daoud Kuttab, director-general of the Community Media Network in Amman and Ramallah said that while there are difficulties with Arabic dubbing, the channel should still be a hit.
“I think people will watch it,” said Kuttab. “The problem they will have is something all studios have with the classical Arabic, it sounds as if you were speaking [English] from the sixteenth century.”
There is not just one standard of Arabic spoken across the Middle East and North Africa, but each country has its own dialect. Over time, these dialects have evolved into quite separate languages, so that a person from Morocco, for instance, can’t understand someone talking in an Iraqi dialect. To overcome this linguistic barrier, the classical Arabic in which the Koran was written will be used on the Cartoon Network, but this form is very different to spoken Arabic and sounds old fashioned to today’s youth.
Turner previously signed a deal with Lammtara Pictures, the Dubai-based studio behind one of the most successful cartoon series in the region: FREEJ. The show follows four grandmothers in Dubai who deal with the challenges of living in a rapidly modernizing city.
Under the deal, Turner will broadcast FREEJ episodes and distribute FREEJ merchandise.
In exchange, Lammtara will produce a new local version of the Cartoon Network’s British Skatoony show in which children compete against cartoons. The show will feature the characters from FREEJ.
The recent collaboration is not the first time that an American children’s TV show will be translated into Arabic.
Thirty years ago Ifath ya Simsim, the local version of Sesame Street, was first broadcasted.