Pokémon in the Arab world
|Pokémon in the Arab world|
|Original anime airdates|
|AG001||December 24, 2005|
|JN001||February 27, 2021|
July 1, 2021
The Pokémon franchise widely reached the Arab world in late 2000, with the first broadcast of بوكيمون، لقد اخترتك انت! in Arabic language on the television channel MBC. It's worth noting that, to date, none of the Pokémon video games have received official Arabic translations or releases from Nintendo in the region. Nevertheless, copies of the games imported from the United States and Europe were distributed in various places, particularly within the GCC countries, as early as 1998.
The word Pokémon is written as بوكيمون and pluralized as بوكيمونات. Pokémon are always referred to as either male or female, since Arabic has no neutral grammatical gender.
While almost all characters, Pokémon, and most of the locations have kept their English names in the Arabic version, some objects in the franchise received Arabic names. The Poké Ball, for example, has been dubbed as كرة البوكي (Kurt Al-Poké), the Poké Flute received the name مزمار البوكي (Mizmar Al-Poké) and so on. One of the Arabic names that is different from the English dub is Team Rocket, which has been translated as: عصابة الرداء الأبيض 'isabat Ar-Redda Al-Abiadh. Additionally, the name of Pallet Town got translated as قرية شورباك Qaryat Shoreback.
Promoting "unislamic" values
Similar to the Pokémania phenomenon experienced in America, the introduction of the Pokémon franchise to the Arab world in 2000 resulted in an unprecedented surge in popularity, almost reaching the status of a cultural phenomenon. Swiftly, stores were inundated with an abundance of Pokémon products, and the anime series rapidly found its way onto television stations in every country across the region.
Amidst the heightened interest in the Pokémon series, certain parents and schoolteachers have raised concerns regarding children’s overattachment to the series while others started to criticize the franchise asserting that it primarily functions as a commercial ploy, strategically designed to entice children into frivolously spending their money on toys, trading cards, and various other related products. The franchise was then accused of promoting "unislamic values" such as violence, but most importantly gambling, as well as anti-creationism ideology: the theory of evolution and survival of the fittest with some accusing the series of trying to promote Atheism among Muslim youth, meanwhile rumors started spreading that the Pokémon names in the series were in fact Hebrew words meant to insult Islam and that the franchise is a part of a Zionist conspiracy. Several media outlets started reporting these stories and from there the controversy escalated, soon after Pokémon products especially the TCG started to get banned in schools while several TV stations took the anime off air as the franchise was blacklisted.
The whole controversy gained major public attention to the point that the Japanese embassy in Saudi Arabia had to issue a statement explaining the Japanese origins of the franchise and denying any relation to any political or religious ideology.
The origin of the controversy remains unknown, but several industry insiders theorize that certain rival companies who were trying to conquer the toys and merchandise market in the Middle East, might have felt threatened by the popularity of the Pokémon franchise and might have had a hand in escalating the controversy and lobbying for the ban. Regardless, all of this remains speculations as there is no substantial evidence to these allegations.
Claims of Zionist Jewish plot
Some outspoken, fundamentalist Muslims claimed that Pokémon is a Jewish conspiracy intended to get Muslim children to renounce their faith. These same groups claimed that the word "Pokémon" means "I am Jewish", with the claimers and their followers generally unaware of the franchise's Japanese origin. The "Evolution vs. Creationism" conflict was also commonly brought up.
In 2001, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who is the highest religious authority in the kingdom, issued a fatwā banning the Pokémon franchise. It claimed that the franchise promoted Zionism by displaying a six-pointed star that resembles the Star of David as well as other religious symbols such as crosses they associated with Christianity and triangles they associated with Freemasonry in the TCG and encouraged gambling in the games due to the inclusion of gambling elements, which is in violation of Muslim doctrine.
High Muslim authorities in Qatar and Egypt then joined the ban. As this happened during the second Intifada, a Jordanian newspaper printed a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sitting in a tank and laughing at an Arab man chasing a Pokémon. This is meant to convey that Arabs are distracted from their conflict with the Israelis by popular franchises, with Pokémon as an example of such "distractions."
Despite the initial banning, which quickly wiped away Pokémon merchandise, especially the card game, from markets in Saudi Arabia, Pokémon video games quickly returned to be sold normally, but under much less demand from local consumers. Some Pokémon merchandise, such as the Expedition Base Set, reappeared in certain stores a few years later, but newer sets were never brought. Games from Generation III on seem completely unaffected by the ban.
A fatwā was also issued in the U.A.E. emirate of Dubai, however no bans officially occurred. Although the U.A.E. takes its Islamic identity seriously like most Arab states, actions based solely on fatwā would however violate its federal constitution. Regardless of this, the licensed local distributor ceased importing Pokémon cards into the U.A.E. until the early 2010s, when the TCG experienced a resurgence among local players. In 2016, the U.A.E. became the first Arab country to be officially sanctioned by The Pokémon Company International to hold official Play! Pokémon events.
Pokémon video games
Before the earliest Pokémon games, Nintendo's products did not have much presence in any Arab country, as most countries faced various political and economical challenges that made them unattractive markets at the time. Throughout the 1980s, most demographics considered 8-bit home computer products a preferable choice for gaming before their gradual decline. However, by the early 1990s, as particular economies in the GCC countries thrived, various independent distributors based in those countries pushed to introduce gaming consoles after becoming hot and competitive commodities in Western markets, including Nintendo's products. Albeit the video game market grew in the GCC countries, for many years there was little effort for standardization among distributors and retailers, causing a discrepancy as both PAL and NTSC hardware and software were sold off the same shelves. Consequently, by the time Pokémon Red and Blue launched the first time in 1998, units available were imported from both Europe and North America. To this day, Nintendo-published products, including Pokémon video games, remain the only gaming products to be imported from both regions into the GCC, despite other publishers focused on importing units solely from Europe.
Nintendo have long considered the GCC markets as part of the greater Asia, thus officially opting to localise NTSC-U North American (NA) products for these markets de jure by the late 1990s, albeit both PAL and NTSC Nintendo products de facto continued to co-exist. Itochu Corporation's Dubai branch was originally assigned to officially distribute Nintendo's NA products within the GCC markets, before ending its collaboration in 2000. By the early 2000s, Active Boeki, distributor for Southeast Asian countries, gradually took over NA distribution duties, albeit it took a while to release Pokémon games due to the controversy against the franchise after the 2001 fatwā was issued against it. No official bans against the games were made however in any country. Working alongside the local resellers, in 2010 Active Boeki founded Dubai-based affiliate Active Gulf to represent them alongside Nintendo and The Pokémon Company within the GCC markets. Albeit the NA Wii and Nintendo DS hardware did have localized packaging made for the U.A.E., the NA Nintendo 3DS became the first Nintendo console officially released under Active Gulf, and it launched in all GCC countries on the same day as the United States in March 2011. However, it was not until the NA launch of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire became the first Pokémon games authorized by The Pokémon Company to be distributed specifically by Active Boeki for the GCC and Southeast Asian markets.
In August 2016, the GCAM introduced the official video game age rating system for Saudi Arabia; Pokémon Sun and Moon were the first Pokémon games released under Saudi Arabia's official age rating, although Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were the first to feature the age rating hard-printed on the case cover. In January 2018, the NMC introduced the official video game age rating system for the United Arab Emirates; Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! were the first Pokémon games released under the U.A.E.'s official age rating.
In the 1990s, Nintendo Co., Ltd. were involved with distribution in Africa, although did not particularly focus on the Arab countries. In 2002, Nintendo of Europe took on executive control to supply Nintendo's PAL products for various low-key distributors within the GCC and other Arab countries in the Levant region and Egypt. In the case of the latter two, the markets remain mixed for gaming in general, let alone Nintendo and Pokémon, due to on-going political and economical challenges. Regardless, NOE continues to import its products into all these countries to this day.
The Arabic dub
The Arabic dub of Pokémon is based on 4Kids Entertainment's English dub, the anime was initially dubbed to Arabic in 2000 by Syria-based Venus Center (مركز الزهرة), and licensed in the region by Km Productions. But due to the controversy in 2001, Venus Center (which is known for being a very conservative company) no longer wanted to be associated with the Pokémon franchise, and ceased production after Season 02. Km Productions then moved the dubbing to their own studios in Lebanon.
After that Lebanon-based Super M Productions took over dubbing the anime starting with EP106, and dubbed Season 03 and Season 04 between 2001 and 2002. Production on the dub then went on hiatus for nearly 3 years and was resumed in 2005 when they dubbed Season 06 starting with EP263, Season 05 (Master Quest) (EP210 to EP262) was skipped for unknown reasons.
Production on the dub was eventually canceled around 2006 due to various reasons, mostly due to 4Kids Entertainment losing the dubbing rights, and the Lebanese company not coming to an agreement with the new rights holders.
Sometime later the four Pokémon movies that were distributed by Miramax (Celebi: The Voice of the Forest, Heroes: Latios & Latias, Jirachi: Wish Maker and Destiny Deoxys) were also dubbed into Arabic, but featured an entirely different cast of voice actors from the series and were released straight-to-DVD.
In 2019 after acquiring the distribution rights of the anime in the region, Netflix revived the Arabic dub of Pokémon, and released Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution, the first new Pokémon-related media dubbed into Arabic in over a decade. Netflix later released seasons 23 to 25, Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle and The Arceus Chronicles.
The new dub was produced in Lebanon by Image Production House Studios (partners of Iyuno-SDI Group), and featured some old voice actors from the Super M production reprising their roles, to preserve continuity, it was this particular reason that played a pivotal role in influencing Netflix's decision to produce the dub in Lebanon.
|#||Season||Dubbing Studio||Distribution||Dubbed episodes|
|Season 01||Pokémon: Indigo Leage||Venus Center||KM Productions||52|
|Season 02||Pokémon: Adventures in the Orange Islands||Venus Center||KM Productions||52|
|Season 03||Super M Productions||KM Productions||11 (part of S03)|
|Pokémon: The Johto Journeys||Super M Productions||KM Productions||41|
|Season 04||Pokémon: Johto League Champions||Super M Productions||KM Productions||52|
|Season 05||Pokémon: Master Quest||The first 52 episodes were not dubbed|
|Season 06||Super M Productions||KM Productions||The last 12 episodes only (part of S06)|
|Pokémon: Advanced||Super M Productions||KM Productions||40|
|Season 07||Pokémon: Advanced Challenge||Super M Productions||KM Productions||52|
|Season 23||Pokémon Journeys: The Series||Image Production House Studios||Netflix||48|
|Season 24||Pokémon Master Journeys: The Series||Image Production House Studios||Netflix||42|
|Season 25||Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series||Image Production House Studios||Netflix||54|
|Pokémon 4Ever - Celebi: The Voice of the Forest||Unknown||Miramax International|
|Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias||Unknown||Miramax International|
|Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker||Unknown||Miramax International|
|Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys||Unknown||Miramax International|
|Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution||Image Production House Studios||Netflix|
|Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle||Image Production House Studios||Netflix|
|Pokémon: The Arceus Chronicles||Image Production House Studios||Netflix|
- The series' slogan was changed from "Gotta catch 'em all!" to I will collect them now!
- Some names were changed such as Prof Oak to Prof Akai, Pallet Town to The Village of Shoreback and Team Rocket to The White Robe Gang.
- In EP157, The Team Rocket duo Butch and Cassidy were dubbed The Black Robe Gang as sort of rivals to the The Team Rocket trio (The White Robe Gang), with both "gangs" operating under the leadership of Giovanni.
- Team Rocket's catch phrase "We're blasting off again!" was changed to We messed up again.
- Prof Oak and Pallet Town reverted to their original names starting from EP106, while Team Rocket's name was changed back in the Miramax and Netflix dubs.
- In EP006, Clefable was referred to as Ariala, which happens to be its prototype name.
- Due to the Arabic language having no neutral grammatical pronouns, Pokémon appearing in the series are often gendered randomly, most of the time as masculine with the few exceptions such as Snorlax in EP041 which was referred to as a female.
- In EP110 and EP116, the song 2.B.A. Master was replaced by Pokémon Karaokémon.
- The Pokemon Johto opening footage along with the season 01 theme song were reused in seasons 04 to 07, with" the cold opening" playing after the opening theme and before the title card similar to the Japanese version.
- starting from EP158, Who's that Pokémon? segment was removed and replaced with only the logo of the series appearing on the screen.  It was restored starting from JN001.
- None of the songs featured in M04 to M07 were dubbed to Arabic, instead only the instrumental versions were used.
- During seasons 01 and 02, some episodes' storylines were altered to align with the cultural and religious regulations of Arab countries.
Venus Center's censorship
Much like 4Kids Entertainment's tendency to edit some parts of the anime to make it more appropriate for the American audience, Venus Center also adopts a similar approach by modifying their works to cater to a Muslim audience. This typically involves the removal or alteration of scenes featuring any sort of display of affection or female characters wearing bathing suits, as well as scenes depicting any non Islamic religious symbolism like the Christian cross.
The prime example of this censorship is EP020, where the entire plot of the episode was altered by creating new storylines to avoid elements related to the supernatural and the mention of ghosts and other aspects of Japanese mythology with several scenes being cut completely, another example is EP022 where one scene was removed because it featured a character holding a card that had a six-pointed star that resembles the Star of David, this resulted in these two episodes being re-dubbed when S01 was added to Netflix in 2017.
Due to the conservative nature of the culture, the Arab audience deems all forms of affection and romance as inappropriate, particularly in children's programming. Consequently, Brock’s interactions with female characters such as Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny are often cut or dubbed into a normal conversation without him displaying any kind of romantic interest, because Netflix only adds the Arabic dub as a secondary audio track to the English episode, these edits are very easily noticeable, as there are several scenes where Brock's mouth is moving but the dialogue is not dubbed instead one of the other characters is speaking. This type of censorship can also be seen in other episodes such as EP070, EP100 and EP103.
In contrast to Venus Center's dub, Super M Productions' dub remained remarkably faithful to the English version, with the dialogue being translated almost word for word, and even the voice actors were instructed to imitate the performance of the American actors when delivering their lines.
Reception, criticism and eventual cancellation
|This article contains fan speculation.|
There is no solid evidence for or against some parts of this article.
Some fans expressed disappointment over the Venus Center's dub claiming it was not the same quality as the studio's other works, this criticism wasn't only directed towards the often unnecessary censorship but also specifically towards the mispronunciation of some of the Pokémon names in the series as well as other foreign words like the names of different cities and towns that were visited in each episode, some fans suggest that the studio purposefully "simplified" some of the Pokémon names to become easier for Arab children to pronounce, some examples of this include Pikachu who was only referred to as Pika in the first few episodes, Goldeen which became simply Golden and Squirtle who was called Square, while others speculated that it was the actors who had a difficulty in pronouncing foreign words that contain letters that aren't part of the Arabic alphabet like the letter P and the letter G in words like the title itself which became Bokemon, Pallet Town which received a completely new name village of Shorebak, some pokemon names such as Growlithe which was pronounced Ghroolithe, Togepi pronounced Toojebi and Lapras which was pronounced Labraas.
The Lebanese dub, on the other hand, received heavy criticism from fans, despite retaining the story's integrity and proper pronunciation. The criticism was pointed towards the casting choices, as the majority of fans felt most of the new actors didn't fit the roles that they were given and didn't capture the essence of the characters as well as the previous cast. It's most likely that this negative reception to the new dub combined with the fact that most of the newer episodes airing being filler episodes (and the overall controversy related to the franchise) factored in the series' drastic drop in popularity.
Financial constraints, with the series being banned on most TV stations, led the studio to prioritize other more profitable projects. Additionally, The Pokémon Company International, who probably felt that there was no need to distribute the anime series in the Middle East as Pokémon toys and merchandise were either not selling very well or were outright completely banned in some countries, led to both parties not renewing the series, resulting in the Arabic dub discontinuing after Season 07.
Cast and crew
Ash Ketchum was voiced by Buthaina Shaya (بثينة شيا), Misty was voiced by Majd Zhazha (مجد ظاظا), and Rafat Bazoo (رأفت بازو) provided the voice of Brock. For Team Rocket, James was voiced by Zeyad Errafae'ie (زياد الرفاعي), Jessie was voiced by Fatima Saad (فاطمة سعد), and Meowth was voiced by Adel Abo Hassoon (عادل أبو حسون). Professor Oak was voiced by Marwan Farhat (مروان فرحات). Other notable voice actors include Amal Saad Alden (امال سعد الدين) as Nurse Joy and Fadwa Souleimane (فدوى سليمان) as Officer Jenny.
- Technical setup: Hanna Yusuf (حنا يوسف)
- Revision: Shafeeq Bitar (شفيق بيطار)
- Proofreading: Dr. Hamoud Younis (د.حمود يونس)
- Sound Engineer: Nadeem Souleimane (نديم سليمان)
- Mixing: Louis Abu Asali (لويس أبو عسلي)
- Montage: Hassan Ateka (حسان عاتكة), Mustafa Qalaaji (مصطفى قلعجي)
- Engineering Supervision: Ramez Torjoman (رامز ترجمان)
- Computer: Muhammad Mazen Ramadan (محمد مازن رمضان), Fahed Najem (فهد نجم)
- Theme Song Lyrics: Rasha Rizk (رشا رزق)
- Theme Song Performance: Tarek Alarabi Tourgane (طارق العربي طرقان), Bassam Al-Hassouni (بسام الحسوني)
- Administrative coordination: Imad Al-Sheikh Khalid (عماد الشيخ خالد)
- Financial Tracking: Muhammad Hassan Muhanna (محمد حسان مهنا), Abdulqader Nabhan (عبد القادر نبهان)
- Assistant Director: Mayada Auda (ميادة عودة)
- Production manager: Redwan Hejazy (رضوان حجازي)
- General supervision: Mannaa Hijazi (مناع حجازي)
- Technical supervision: Maamoon Al-Rifai (مأمون الرفاعي)
Super M Productions
The team of voice actors was led by Jihad Al Attrash (جهاد الأطرش ) who played the role of the Narrator and provided the voice of the Pokédex, Ash Ketchum was voiced by Mona Majzoub (منى مجذوب), Misty was voiced by Joumana Zonji (جمانة الزنجي) and Nabil Assaf (نبيل عساف) provided the voice of Brock. For Team Rocket, Jessie was voiced by Claudia Marchalian (كلوديا مرشليان), James was voiced by Abdo Hakim (عبدو حكيم) and Meowth was voiced by Hasan Hamdan (حسن حمدان).
Other notable voice actors include: Tariq Kaakati (طارق كعكاتي), Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار), Fadi Rifai (فادي الرفاعي), Jihan Malla (جيهان مّلا), Naji Shamil (ناجي شامل), Ismail Nanoua (إسماعيل نعنوع ), Wissam Sabbagh (وسام صباغ) and Jamal Hamdan (جمال حمدان).
- Computer: Jalal Masoud (جلال مسعود)
- Montage and mixing: Jamal Mokalled (جمال مقلد)
- Executive: Mohsen Awada (محسن عواضة)
- Technical supervision: Walid Merie (وليد مرعي)
- General supervision: Mufid Merie (مفيد مرعي).
By the time the production on the dub of S06 started in 2005, many actors had either left the company or already had commitments working on other projects, therefore some characters such as Ash, Misty and Meowth received new voice actors.
With new voice actors: Rana Al Rifai (رنا رفاعي) as Ash Ketchum, Hisham Abu Suleiman (هشام أبو سليمان) as Brock, Asmahan Bitar (أسمهان بيطار) as Jessie, Lama Maraachli (لمى مرعشلي) as Goh, Ghadir Bazzi (غدير بزي) as Chloe with Raymond Francis (ريمون فرنسيس) as The Narrator and Fadi Rifai (فادي الرفاعي) now as Professor Cerise.
Other notable voice actors include: Sam Ghusen (سام غصن) as Mewtwo, Ibrahim Madi (إبراهيم ماضي) as Giovanni, Osama Oley (أسامة العلي) as Dr. Fuji, Rania Mroueh (رانيا مروة) as Koko, Ali Saad (علي سعد) as Dada and Mahdi Fakhreddin (مهدي فخر الدين) as Dr. Zed.
- Translation: Marie Thérèse Ghaya (ماري تيريز غيا)
- Dialogue Director: Rana Barakat (رنا بركات) (M22), Alaa Bitar (علاء بيطار) (S23-S24), Ghadir Bazzi (غدير بزي) (M23, The Arceus Chronicles), Samir Fahd (سمير فهد) (S25)
|Super M Productions
M22-M23, JN001-JN147 and The Arceus Chronicles)
|Marwan Farhat (مروان فرحات)||Jihad Al Attrash (جهاد الأطرش)(EP106-EP209)
Fadi Rifai (فادي الرفاعي)(EP263-AG092)
|Pierre Dagher (بيير داغر)||Raymond Francis (ريمون فرنسيس)|
|Buthaina Shaya (بثينة شيا)||Mona Majzoub (منى مجذوب)(EP106-EP209)
Unknown voice actress(EP263-AG092)
|Unknown voice actor||Rana Al Rifai (رنا الرفاعي)|
|Majd Zhazha (مجد ظاظا)||Joumana Zonji (جمانة الزنجي)(EP106-EP209)||Joumana Zonji (جمانة الزنجي)|
|Rafat Bazoo (رأفت بازو)||Nabil Assaf (نبيل عساف)||Unknown voice actor||Hicham Abou Sleiman (هشام أبو سليمان)(M22)|
Gilles Yussif (جيل يوسف)(JNS01-JN147)
|Ayman Al-Salek (أيمن السالك)||Tariq Kaakati (طارق كعكاتي)|
|Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار)||Unknown voice actress|
|Abdo Hakim (عبدو حكيم)||Unknown voice actor|
|Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار)|
|Lama Maraachli (لمى مرعشلي)|
|Ghadir Bazzi (غدير بزي)|
|Fatima Saad (فاطمة سعد)||Claudia Marchalian (كلوديا مرشليان)(EP106-EP157)||Unknown voice actress||Asmahan Bitar (أسمهان بيطار)|
|Zeyad Errafae'ie (زياد الرفاعي)||Abdo Hakim (عبدو حكيم)||Unknown voice actor||Abdo Hakim (عبدو حكيم)|
|Adel Abo Hassoon (عادل أبو حسون)||Hasan Hamdan (حسن حمدان)(EP106-EP209)||Unknown voice actor||Hasan Hamdan (حسن حمدان)|
|Amal Saad Alden (امال سعد الدين)||Jihan Malla (جيهان ملا)||Jihan Malla (جيهان ملا)|
|Fadwa Souleimane (فدوى سليمان)||Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار)||Unknown voice actress||Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار)|
|Marwan Farhat (مروان فرحات)||Ismail Nanoua (إسماعيل نعنوع)||Saad Hamdan (سعد حمدان)|
|Amal Saad Alden (امال سعد الدين)||Wissam Sabbagh (وسام صباغ)||Fadi Abboud (فادي عبود)|
|Anjy Al-Yousif (أنجي اليوسف)||Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار)||Souhair Naser El Deen (سهير ناصر الدين)|
|Fadwa Souleimane (فدوى سليمان)|
|Amal Saad Alden (امال سعد الدين)|
|Rafat Bazoo (رأفت بازو)||Ismail Nanoua (إسماعيل نعنوع)||Ibrahim Madi (إبراهيم ماضي)|
|Marwan Farhat (مروان فرحات)||Tariq Kaakati (طارق كعكاتي)|
|Fadwa Souleimane (فدوى سليمان)||Diana Ibrahim (ديانا إبراهيم)||Silhouette Houdaeib (سيلوات حديب)|
|Sam Ghusen (سام غصن)|
|Fadi Rifai (فادي الرفاعي)|
|Leila Shammas (ليلى شماس)|
|Ghassan Haddad (غسان حداد)|
|Hassan Hamdan (حسان حمدان)|
|Silhouette Houdaeib (سيلوات حديب)|
|Imad Feghaly (عماد فغالي)|
|Shadi Shammas (شادي شمص)|
|Asmahan Bitar (أسمهان بيطار)|
|Iman Bitar (إيمان بيطار)|
|Dalia Khalifeh (داليا خليفة)|
|Fadi Abboud (فادي عبود)|
|Souhair Naser El Deen (سهير ناصر الدين)|
|Souhair Naser El Deen (سهير ناصر الدين)|
|Ghassan Haddad (غسان حداد)|
|Season||Original broadcaster||Time slot||Debut episode||Final episode||Episodes||Reruns/Syndication|
|Pokémon: Indigo League||MBC||Daily at 12pm GMT||
!بوكيمون، لقد اخترتك انت
مركز تدريب البوكيمونات
Several other TV stations
|Pokémon: Adventures in the Orange Islands||MBC||Daily at 12pm GMT||
نجمة مهرجان التسوق
|52||Several TV stations|
|Pokémon: The Johto Journeys||ART Teenz||Daily at 5pm KSA time/ 2pm GMT||
حرب البوكيمون المائية
البحث عن الشهرة
|52||Several TV stations|
|Pokémon: Johto League Champions||ART Teenz||Daily at 5pm KSA time/ 2pm GMT||
January 1, 2003
Al Andalus TV
|Pokémon: Master Quest||None||None||Unaired||Unaired||None||None|
|Pokémon: Advanced||New TV
|Daily at 6:30am Lebanon time*
Daily at 10pm KSA time/ 7pm GMT*
December 10, 2005*
September 24, 2006*
|52||New TV (2006)|
ART Teenz (2006-2007)
|Pokémon: Advanced Challenge||New TV||Daily at 6:30am Lebanon time||
|رحلة البوكيمون: المسلسل||e-Junior TV
July 1, 2021*
July 1, 2021*
|48||an unauthorized broadcast on several satellite channels|
|رحلة سيد البوكيمون: المسلسل||Netflix||
!أن نتدرب أو لا نتدرب
September 1, 2022
مواجهة عند بوابات وورب!
September 1, 2022
|رحلة البوكيمون القصوى: المسلسل||Netflix||
November 24, 2023
!إنها بداية شيء مهم
November 24, 2023
|بوكيمون: أن تكون سيد بوكيمون||Netflix||
!رحلة لاكتشاف الجديد
November 24, 2023
!السماء الزرقاء البعيدة
November 24, 2023
- Season 01 premiered on MBC in September 2000, and then was broadcast in syndication starting from November 27, 2000. At first only the first 12 episodes had been dubbed, so these episodes would re air on mbc over and over again for weeks before finally new episodes started airing with an updated theme song.
- Seasons 01 and 02 aired between 2000 and 2001.
- Season 03 premiered sometime later in late 2001.
- Season 04 premiered on ART Teenz on January 1, 2003, a year after Season 03 had concluded its run.
- Season 06 premiered on New TV on December 10, 2005, and later aired on ART Teenz starting from September 24, 2006 as part of the channel's special Ramadan programming.
- Season 23 aired on e-Junior in February 2021 before being released on Netflix later that summer.
The anime initially aired exclusively on MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Center), an independent free-to-air pan-Arab channel broadcasting via satellite. But due to its immense popularity it spread rapidly to other channels, mainly local government-owned stations in different countries such as Egypt, Syria, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco among others. As it is customary for Arab Television channels to air new and exclusive programming during Ramadan, many of these stations like Qatar TV started broadcasting the series from November 27, 2000 (the first day of Ramadan that year) right after S01 had concluded its run on MBC.
Then in 2001 due to the controversy and the boycott many TV stations dropped the series from air to avoid backlash. Both MBC and Spacetoon terminated their contracts with KM productions and the rights were picked up by a Saudi Private network, The Arab Radio and Television Network (شبكة راديو وتلفزيون العرب).
Starting with Season 03 the anime now aired mainly on ART Teenz, a children's channel and part of the ART Network, and on New TV (تلفزيون الجديد), an independent Lebanese TV channel that targets mostly a Christian Arab audience. With syndicated reruns being aired occasionally on few other channels such as ART Ein (إيه آر تي عين), Al Andalus TV (an Arabic-speaking privately-owned satellite channel broadcasting from Spain) and the government-owned channels in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, meaning no official ban was issued in those countries.
New TV started airing the series In 2004, reruns of the first 04 seasons would air every morning at 6:30am (Lebanon time) so that kids would watch it before they go to school. And by December 2005, Season 06 started airing exclusively on the channel, but because of the inconvenient time slot this broadcast of the season didn't attract much attention and went almost unnoticed. Season 06 would later air on ART Teenz the following Ramadan to a much wider audience reception. Sometime later Season 07 premiered on New TV, this makes New TV the only channel to have aired the Arabic dub of Season 07.
ART Teenz kept airing reruns of S03 to S06 daily from 2002 until 2007, and by 2006 the channel was airing Pokémon twice a day with S04 airing at 7:30pm KSA/4:30pm GMT and S06 airing at 10pm KSA/7pm GMT. While its sister channel ART Ein, a general entertainment channel aired reruns of S01 to S04. Both channels were shut down in 2008.
MBC 3 another prominent children' s channel in the region and also part of the MBC network would sometimes broadcast different Pokémon movies (M02 to M07) in the English dub with Arabic subtitles, with the most recent one being POKÉMON Detective Pikachu in 2022. Despite of frequently broadcasting the Pokémon movies (as well as the other works distributed by KM Productions like the Yu-Gi-Oh! series) it's unclear why this channel has never aired the Pokémon anime series.
|Pokémon the Movie 2000: The Power of One||December 3, 2009|
|Pokémon 3: The Movie - Spell of the Unown: Entei||August 22, 2006|
|Pokémon 4Ever - Celebi: The Voice of the Forest||February 23, 2007|
|Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias||February 13, 2008|
|Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker||May 14, 2010|
|Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys||June 30, 2010|
|POKÉMON Detective Pikachu||July 16, 2022|
|Pan region via satellite||Local stations|
|Algeria||MBC (S01 to S02 first run)
ART Teenz (S03 to S04 first run, S01 to S02, S06 syndicated reruns )
New TV (S06 to S07 first run, S01 to S04 syndicated reruns)
Disney XD (S20 to S22 English dub only)
|Television Algérienne (S01 to S03)|
Echorouk TV (S23 unofficial)
|Bahrain||Spacetoon as a seven-hour block on Bahrain TV (S01)|
|Egypt||Egyptian Second Channel (S01 to S02)|
|Iraq||Al Iraqiya (S01)|
|Jordan||Al-Urdunniyya (S01 to S03)|
|Kuwait||Kuwait Television (S01 to S02)|
New TV (S01 to S07)
|Morocco, Western Sahara||2M* (S01 to S06 Arabic dub, S01 to S10 French dub)|
|Oman||Oman TV (S01 to S02)|
|Qatar||Qatar Television (S01 to S02)|
|Saudi Arabia||MBC (S01 to S02)|
ART Teenz (S01 to S06)
ART Ein (S01 to S04)
|Syria||Channel 1 (Syrian TV channel) (S01 to S02)|
|Tunisia||Tunis 7 (S01 to S03)|
|United Arab Emirates||Emarat TV|
Dubai TV (S01 to S02)
e-Junior (S23 Dual audio: Arabic and English, S24 to S25 English dub only)
|Yemen||Yemen TV (S01 to S02)|
Moroccan channel 2M is notable for being the most recent TV channel to have officially aired the Arabic dub of the Pokémon anime when it aired S06 in 2010. This channel also aired the Pokémon anime in French. The channel has two separate feeds: one available nationwide via terrestrial television, and a satellite feed under the branding 2M Monde. The Pokémon anime only airs on the terrestrial feed because the network only buys its broadcasting rights for within Morocco.
Since the late 2000s, none of the Arabic-language TV stations in any country are airing or rerunning the Arabic dub of the Pokémon anime, most likely due to broadcasting rights expiring and complicated copyrights issues between ShoPro and KM Productions. Although the English version of the anime did air on a few premium channels such as Disney XD and most recently the UAE based channel e-Junior, this broadcast of the anime series is not well-known though, most likely due to, if not for the language barrier, then to the relatively low participation of the expensive subscription TV model in the region overall. Regardless, Disney XD's airing of the anime is not officially recognized for the MENA region specifically.
In 2021, following the Arabic dubbing and subsequent release of Pokémon Journeys: The Series on Netflix, an unauthorized transmission of the series occurred on several Arabic satellite channels, most prominently on several Algerian networks such as Echorouk TV due to the nation's lack of interest in reinforcing broadcasting and copyright regulations. This illegal broadcast garnered considerable viewership interest, as it signified a noteworthy event in the realm of the Pokémon anime, being the initial instance in more than a decade that the series made its presence on a prominent Arabic-language television network.
The Season 01 opening was written and recorded by Rasha Rizk (رشا رزق), with additional vocal support of Tarek Alarabi Tourgane (طارق العربي طرقان) and Bassam Al-Hassouni (بسام الحسوني). The first version of the theme song which uses the lyric (على خير الصنيع) was used for the first 12 episodes ("Pokémon - I Choose You!" to "Here Comes the Squirtle Squad"), and then replaced by a "more grammatically correct" second version with the lyric (سلاحي المنيع) for the remaining episodes ("Mystery at the Lighthouse" to "Charizard Chills"). Both versions of the song were performed by Rasha Rizk which she confirmed herself in a Q&A.
Pikachu's Jukebox songs were also written and recorded by Rasha Rizk.
When the dub was moved to Lebanon, new versions of Pikachu's Jukebox were recorded for the remaining episodes of the Orange Islands arc by the new cast of voice actors, except for the song 2.B.A. Master which was replaced by Pokémon Karaokémon in the episodes "The Stun Spore Detour" and "The Rivalry Revival" for unknown reasons, Pokémon Karaokémon songs were also recorded.
An Arabic version of Pokémon Johto was also recorded and used for the initial broadcast of Season 03, but then it was replaced by the Season 01 theme during reruns and on the DVD release, probably due to the original theme song being more popular. This combination of the Pokémon Theme and the footage of Pokémon Johto was reused for all the subsequent seasons dubbed by Super M Productions.
The opening themes for seasons 04 to 07 were never dubbed, instead they used the Season 01 theme song along with the footage of Pokémon Johto. The opening footage for those seasons was replaced due to their opening themes being 45 seconds instead of 01 min, making them incompatible with the season 01 theme song.
- In an interview with Rasha Rizk and Tarek Alarabi Tourgane in 2020, she revealed that the process of writing the Arabic version of the Pokémon Theme was very difficult, as 4Kids Entertainment specifically requested for the song to be translated verbatim which was challenging since the English and Arabic language are not grammatically compatible. She also mentioned that 4Kids Entertainment wanted a young male vocalist to perform the song similar to Jason Paige, as several Venus Center employees recorded different demos for the song, the studio eventually decided to just use Rasha Rizk's version.
Home media and digital release
- Season 01 was released on VHS in different countries in the region by various local home media distributors such as
The KSA-based Young Future Entertainment and MEGASTAR,
The Egypt-based E.H.E and Flash Video Film,
The Kuwait-based IVC: International Video Co. (شركة الفديو الدولي),
The UAE-based Al Wadi.
- Season 03 was released on VHS in Egypt in 2001 by Flash Video Film.
- Season 01 and Season 03 were later released on DVD by the UAE-based distributor Al Wadi.
- A subtitled version of M01 to M03 were also released on VHS by these companies 
- A subtitled version of M04 was released on DVD by SCOPE in the UAE and other Gulf countries.
- M04 to M07 were also released on DVD by Miramax International featuring an Arabic and an English audio, although the exact release dates are currently unknown.
|Movie||Arabic Title||Release date|
|Pokémon 4Ever - Celebi: The Voice of the Forest||بوكيمون للأبد||2007.|
|Pokémon Heroes: Latios & Latias||أبطال بوكيمون||Unknown*|
|Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker||Arabic title unknown||Unknown*|
|Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys||Arabic title unknown||Unknown*|
- Seasons 04 to 07 didn't receive any form of home media release, and they are currently completely unobtainable. Complicating matters further, because of legal issues preventing any chance of re-airing or commercial distribution to alternative television networks. KM Productions facing the inability to profit from these seasons, made the unfortunate decision to recycle the tapes and re-purposing them to store other projects thus scrapping the Pokémon episodes and losing them completely. With no recordings of the episodes to be found on the internet since they haven't been re-aired in over a decade, the Arabic dub of these seasons is now considered by many fans to be a Lost media. It's unclear whether or not Al Jadeed (formerly known as New TV), 2M and the ART Network still have copies in their archives, but since both Al Jadeed TV and 2M TV stopped airing children's programs years ago while ART Teenz was defunct in 2008, it's most likely that they disposed of their copies as well. Out of 312 episodes dubbed to Arabic approximately 156 episodes (from EP158 to AG092) are now potentially completely lost, and only a couple of short videos have made their way to the internet.
- Season 02 also seems to have never been officially released on home media, and it was for many years considered lost as well. However in 2011 fan-recorded episodes were illicitly uploaded to the internet, and presently these unauthorized recordings constitute the sole means by which the Arabic dub of Season 02 can be viewed.
- Due to low DVD sales, the Miramax dubbed movies have also become quite rare and difficult to obtain.
In 2019 Netflix acquired the distribution rights for the franchise in the region and released:
|Arabic Title||Thumbnail||Release date|
|بوكيمون: ميوتو يضرب مجددًا - التطور||February 27, 2020|
|رحلة البوكيمون: المسلسل||July 1, 2021|
|بوكيمون الفيلم: أسرار الأدغال||October 8, 2021|
|رحلة سيد البوكيمون: المسلسل||September 1, 2022|
|بوكيمون: سجلات آركياس||September 23, 2022|
|رحلة البوكيمون القصوى: المسلسل||November 24, 2023|
|بوكيمون: أن تكون سيد بوكيمون|
|المدبرة والبوكيمون||December 28, 2023|
The first season titled دوري إنديغو (Indigo League) is also currently available on Netflix retaining the original Arabic dubbing done by Venus Center, except for the episodes "The Ghost of Maiden's Peak" and "Abra and the Psychic Showdown" which were re-dubbed since they were heavily censored in the original Syrian dub.
The anime can also be legally accessed for free via the Pokémon TV app since it's not regionally locked, however as of 2023 the app has not yet added the Arabic dub of the series.
Throughout the years, the first few Pokémon movies were released in some capacity in Arab countries, usually on special events or around holidays like Eid Al-Fitr. All of the movies that were distributed in American theaters by Warner Bros, were also released in theaters in certain Arab countries by Warner Bros. Pictures' Middle East agent Shooting Stars LLC (also known as Joseph Chacra & Sons in Lebanon).
- M01 to M03 were released on VHS.
- M04 to M07 were released on DVD.
- M02 to M07 received a televised broadcast on MBC 3.
- M22 and M23 were released on Netflix.
- POKÉMON Detective Pikachu was released theatrically on May 9, 2019.
- The other movies were either available on Netflix, the Pokémon TV app or on premium TV packaging  and local subscription based apps like e-Junior  and OSN.
After the Pokémon anime started airing in the Arabic language, it became one of the most popular anime series in the Arab world. Therefore, the demand for Pokémon-related merchandise among Arab children was high. Thus, several video game retailers began to sell a wide variety of Pokémon merchandise as they were best sold. Additionally, many restaurants offered promotional toys with their meals, such as Burger King in 2000. Due to the controversy in 2001, however, a lot of the merchandise was withdrawn from the main retail shops. After the controversy subsided, many game stores started selling Pokémon goods again without incident.
As of the 2010s, various distributors imported certain official Pokémon merchandise from either Europe or North America, such as Toys "R" Us outlets selling Poké Dolls and other kinds of toys. Many high-end bookstore chains, especially those that rely heavily on imported materials, may sell an assorted variety of books and magazines. For example, a Kinokuniya outlet situated in The Dubai Mall (the sole Kinokuniya outlet in the entire region), which is known to sell large volumes of varied stock, has been retailing children's magazines, video game guides, game books, film novelizations, as well as most of the Pokémon manga series, available in both English and Japanese, with the latter being distributed exclusively via this store.
In early 2013, Active Gulf, Nintendo's officially licensed distributor in the Middle East, have collaborated with their retail partners to locally sell authentic packs for the Pokémon Battle Disc Game.
Many smaller toy and variety stores found in the grey market may often sell unlicensed and counterfeit products, with many of them imported from China. It is also possible to find pirated trading card packs, but in much smaller volumes than when initially released, as in prior to the 2001 controversies. Overall, the current legal status of the official trading card game itself remains vague in any case.
Conan in The Land of Pokémon
Conan in The Land of Pokémon was a Kuwaiti Musical stage-play crossover between Pokémon and Detective Conan, created by Spacetoon, likely to expand both franchises, both being the most popular on the channel. The play features stage actors portraying characters from both series and lip syncing to a voice over done by the Arabic dub voice actors, the voice over was recorded in Venus Center studios in Syria. The play is produced by Al Salam theater and opened in Kuwait on December 23, 2000 playing for the 2 days of Eid Al-Fitr.
- Written by: Alaa Aljaber
- Directed by: Jaber Muhammedi
- Artistic supervision: Abdel Aziz El Moslem
- The cast of actors features: Hourya Arafat, Soliman Al Marzooq, Mohammad Al Shoaiby, Ahmed Bassem, Fahd Bassem, Mahmoud Boushahri, Mahmoud Boushahri, Dana Abdullah, Yasser Abdel Karim
The plot of the play is about Team Rocket impersonating Ash to poison nature and water, and Conan has to investigate this.
A 56 min cut of the play was released on VHS by IVC: International Video Co. in Kuwait and was also broadcast on the Kuwaiti national television channel.
Despite ending its run in January 2001 in the United States, Pokémon Live! was invited to perform on an open stage in Al Mamzar Park, Dubai, U.A.E. in the duration of the whole month of March that same year, coinciding with the annual Dubai Shopping Festival. Whilst the musical was mostly identical to its performance elsewhere, the female actors had a slight change to their wardrobe which covered their exposed abdomens and thighs, likely to abide with Dubai's public dress code. Since the musical featured the same cast from its American run, it was performed solely in English. The musical, albeit received very positively by its audience, ended its run just days before the 2001 controversies began in the region overall.
Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions
On March 31, 2017, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions was performed at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates as part of the Mother of the Nation Festival. It is the first Symphonic Evolutions concert to be performed in the Arab world.
- 10 Egyptian Conspiracy Theories
- Arabs See Jewish Conspiracy in Pokemon - latimes
- ADL denounces claim by Muslim leaders that Pokemon game is “Jewish Conspiracy" - Press Release (archived copy)
- Saddam Hussein tried to ban POKEMON in Iraq for an utterly bizarre reason - Mirror Online
- Saudi Arabia issues fatwa against POKÉMON for being ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘blasphemous' | World | News | Express.co.uk
- Dubai Family Consultant Dr. Khalifa Al-Makhrazi: Pokemon Go Is Prohibited, Spreads Darwinism | MEMRI
- Fatwas of the Permanent Committee
- The Escapist - Archive - Saudi Bans Pokemon (archived copy)
- BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Saudi Arabia bans Pokemon (archived copy)
- BBC News | Middle East | Qatari religious leader bans Pokemon
- Peterson, Mark Allen. 'Anthropology & Mass Communication: Media and Myth in the New Millennium'. 2003. Print.
- Dubai scholars declare Pokemon unislamic - Gulfnews
- Technically, today both PAL and NTSC signals are no longer used in most countries after being effectively superseded by newer DVB-T and ATSC signals respectively. However, the terms "PAL" and "NTSC" continues to be used for legacy reasons in reference to regional origins of specific game units since various older platforms are region-locked, and despite Nintendo eventually opting for fully region-free hardware starting in 2017.
- International Distributors: Middle East - NOA official website (1998 archive); Wayback Machine
- confirmed by Jihan Mulla, one of the voice actors.
- Not much is known about the production of this dub, M05 was dubbed with an Egyptian dialect of Arabic (presumably in Egypt), while M07 was dubbed using standard Arabic presumably in Lebanon.
- These 3 francophone countries had previously aired the Pokémon anime in French before it was dubbed into Arabic. It's worth noting that these countries experienced comparatively lower impact from the controversy compared to their fellow Arab nations.
- https://www.instagram.com/p/B2bucEEgWbN, there were rumors that the 2nd version of the song was performed by Sonia Bitar.
- Confirmed by Mufid Merie, a producer and the manager of KM Productions.
- Active Gulf announcing on their official Facebook page about the availability of the Pokémon Battle Disc Game
- Young and old enjoy Pokemon - Gulfnews
|The Pokémon franchise around the world|
|The Americas:||Brazil • Canada • Latin America • United States|
|Asia:||Greater China • Indonesia • Japan • Malaysia • Philippines • Singapore • South Asia • South Korea • Thailand • Vietnam|
|Europe:||Albania • Belgium • Bulgaria • Croatia • Czech Republic • Denmark • Finland • France • Germany • Greece|
Hungary • Iceland • Ireland • Italy • Latvia • Lithuania • Netherlands • North Macedonia • Norway • Poland
Portugal • Romania • Russia • Serbia • Slovakia • Spain • Sweden • Ukraine • United Kingdom
|Middle East:||Arab world • Israel • Turkey|
|Oceania:||Australia • New Zealand|
|This article is part of Project Globe, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon franchise around the world.|