Puppets World: the inspiring backstory of inclusive theatre

April 16, 2024
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Like many children in the Middle East, Ban Khalil and Ramy Badr, both engineers, grew up watching Sesame Street in Arabic. After graduating, they followed their dream and founded Puppets World, to bring  joy to children in Jordan. At the ages of 29 and 30, the two friends founded their theatre with the support of CREACT4MED, a project funded by the European Union in the southern Mediterranean region.

The adventure of Puppets World began in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, mainly with training and seminars. And with the end of the lockdown, Puppets World, consisting of four permanent members, began its work by participating in a street show. The success was immediate and the troupe began performing in all twelve governorates of Jordan, reaching 70,000 children today, including refugees and kids with disabilities.

“Recently, we started using sign language to be accessible to as many children as possible. In 2022, we received the Intercultural Achievement Award from Austria, which recognised the extraordinary inclusion of over 20 different nationalities in the theatre’s performances,” explains Ramy Badr, noting that the performances are aimed at Jordanians, refugees living in the country and also children of foreigners working in Jordan. “The stories told always contain a moral. Regardless of their content, they are educational,” he says.

“Our aim is to create a welcoming and accessible environment for children from all backgrounds to ensure that our performances are enjoyed and appreciated by a wide range of people,” he adds.

“Today we have 25 puppets that come from all over the world, especially Europe. They are made available to us by embassies. In Amman, we are invited to events organised by local and international institutions”,” notes Ramy, who believes that his career as an engineer is far behind him.

The Decisive Impact of CREACT4MED in Nurturing Creativity

Puppets World is one of the many projects supported by CREACT4MED, a creative project co-funded by the European Union and coordinated by the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA). The main objective of the project is to contribute to the growth of cultural and creative entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean and thus achieve sustainable economic development in the region. It aims to strengthen the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in the Mediterranean region by supporting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with a particular focus on youth and women.

Maria Ruiz de Cossio, project coordinator of CREACT4MED, notes that “CREACT4MED is based on four equally important pillars, all of which contribute to strengthening the cultural and creative ecosystem in the Southern Mediterranean: mapping, training, financial support and advocacy”.

The mapping pillar is key to understanding the context of the cultural and creative industries in terms of their economic, social and cultural contribution in the countries of the Southern Mediterranean and in the region as a whole. The training has provided young entrepreneurs with key skills that enable them to start their own business and promote the cultural and creative industries in the region. There is often a lack of business knowledge, which is particularly important for the cultural and creative industries. CREACT4MED has therefore developed a tailor-made programme to solve this problem.

In addition, CREACT4MED offers financial support to help MSMEs bring a product to market, rationalise their supply chain or participate in an exhibitor festival to make contacts. MSMEs usually have a funding gap and access to finance is crucial to strengthen their capacity and optimise their business model, enter new markets and improve their long-term sustainability. CREACT4MED has provided financial support to 23 entrepreneurs in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia, bringing them one step closer to making their businesses sustainable.

Finally, advocacy brings together all the best practices and experiences from the project by advocating for meaningful policy changes and creating a favourable environment for entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. This pillar also includes outreach, which brings the CREACT4MED community together in the form of regional events, Med CCI Hub initiatives and the engagement platform, where connections are made between the more than 600 members of the community.


Culture Youth