14.06.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

SESAME On Track for First Experiments in 2015

SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) is a major science facility under construction near Amman (Jordan), modelled institutionally on CERN.  SESAME will both:

  • Foster scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighbouring countries (and prevent or reverse the brain drain) by enabling world-class research in subjects ranging from biology and medical sciences through materials science, physics and chemistry to archaeology, and
  • Build scientific and cultural bridges between neighbouring countries and foster mutual understanding and tolerance through international cooperation.

The users of SESAME will be based in universities and research institutes in the region.  They will visit the laboratory periodically to carry out experiments, generally in collaboration, where they will be exposed to the highest scientific standards. 

The SESAME Council met on 30 and 31 May at the El Hassan Science City (EHSC) in Amman (Jordan), courtesy of Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan, President of the EHSC. The Council was impressed by progress in the construction of SESAME which was presented by the Director of SESAME, Dr Khaled Toukan (who is also Minister of Energy of Jordan), and the Technical Director, Dr Amor Nadji. The third generation SESAME light-source is technically on track for experiments to begin in 2015 with three ‘day-one’ beamlines, provided the necessary funding is secured. 

Commitments and offers confirmed and announced during the meeting look set to provide most of the capital funding needed to complete construction and allow experiments to begin in 2015 with three beamlines. 

The Council noted with gratitude that SESAME has benefitted enormously from help and advice that has been provided by some of the world’s synchrotron laboratories. It also thanked UNESCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for their continuing support, and the many laboratories and other organisations that have provided and funded training opportunities for SESAME staff and future SESAME users.

Closing the meeting, the President of the Council, Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith FRS (Director of Energy Research, Oxford University) said: 'I am now confident that SESAME is on track technically, and will soon also be positioned financially, for experiments to begin in 2015.  It is a remarkable tribute to the spirit of cooperation in pursuit of a common goal which underwrites the project that SESAME is progressing so well during a time of external turbulence'.

There are some 60 synchrotron light-sources in the world, including a few in developing countries, but none in the Middle East, although a need for this was recognized by the Nobel Laureate Professor Abdus Salam (Pakistan), founder of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, and other eminent scientists more than 25 years ago.

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