CAIRO — “From Cairo…it’s Saturday Night!”

An Arabic version of “Saturday Night Live” is airing across the Arab world for the first time this weekend, offering a Middle Eastern twist on the hit U.S. comedy show.

In a newly renovated theater in the Egyptian capital, the live audience laughed their way through the shooting of the first episode Tuesday.

The host was Donia Samir Ghanem, one of Egypt’s top female comedians, who cracked jokes at her own expense, and sent up stereotypes of different Arabic countries. All the elements of SNL were there: a celebrity guest, music performances, live sketches, videos and parody news – but when it comes to politics, they’re playing it safe.

The writers of “Saturday Night Live in Arabic” are treading lightly after Egypt’s sharply satirical version of “The Daily Show” had to go off the air in 2014. Its star, the country’s most popular satirist Bassem Youssef – known overseas as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart” – said he believed the political climate was no longer conducive to satire.

Youssef’s TV show was canceled the month Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, took office after winning elections. El-Sissi led the 2013 popularly-backed overthrow of a former Islamist president, and then jailed thousands of Islamists before broadening the crackdown on dissent to include secular activists.

Youssef lost viewers after airing an episode shortly after el-Sissi’s landside election win in which he poked fun at the hype around el-Sissi and mocked his die-hard supporters, suggesting that many Egyptians may not be open to satire if the joke is directed at them.