Sassy cartoon Gulf grannies out to charm the world

Wed Jan 6, 2010 9:12am EST
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By Tamara Walid

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - Rising tower blocks, modern etiquette and the erosion of traditional values have so enraged four Dubai grannies that they plan to conquer the world.

Um Saeed, Um Saloom, Um Allawi and Um Khammas, the veiled, sassy grandmothers from the hit cartoon TV series "Freej" have won the hearts of viewers across the Gulf as they dole out advice, insults and do battle with the encroaching modern world.

Now the creator of the Gulf Arab region's first animated TV series is in talks with international companies to take Freej globally and work on new animation projects for children.

Mohammed Harib, founder of UAE-based Lammtara Pictures that produces Freej -- which means neighborhood in the region's dialect -- told Reuters he was in discussions with animation and broadcasting companies in the United States and Europe.

"We are in talks with several international companies to repackage the show and take it international, do proper dubbing, and collaborate on new animation projects for kids," he said.

Harib said he hoped to sign an agreement in the first half of this year.

The Arabic show, released with English subtitles and dubbed in Italian, has gained wide popularity among local and expatriate communities across the region.

The 15-minute episodes, 15 shows each season, revolve around the lives of four old Emirati women living in a traditional neighborhood in modern Dubai. As their hometown goes through radical changes, the women try to come up with solutions to prevailing social issues in a satirical way.   Continued...