Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East


The SESAME building, 
35 km north west of Amman, Jordan
High resolution


Inside the SESAME Hall, May 2012
The inner circular structure houses the mictrotron that provides the first stage of acceleration, which is now operational, and the booster synchrotron. The outer circular structure will house the new main 2.5 GeV storage ring. High resolution 

Magnets of the booster synchrotron (previously used in BESSY 1: donated by Germany) during installation in 2012. Commissioning of the booster will begin in late 2013. High resolution




Main ring dipole magnet
CAD drawing of one of the magnets which will be built by CERN, with the support of SESAME and funding from the European Commission. High resolution

Ninth Annual SESAME Users' Meeting, Amman November 2011
SESAME's extensive training programme, which includes the Users' Meetings, Schools, workshops and visits to operating synchrotron-light sources, is building scientific and technical capacity in the SESAME region. High resolution


1)   Synchrotron light-sources have become an essential tool in a very wide range of applied and basic sciences. There are over 60 light-sources in the world, including a few in developing countries, but none in the Middle East. SESAME, which is a major facility under construction near Amman (Jordan), will not only be the first light-source in the Middle East, but also the region's first true international centre of excellence.

2)   The members of SESAME are currently Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey (others are being sought). China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA are Observers. SESAME was set up under the auspices of UNESCO, but is now a completely independent inter-governmental organisation.

3)   SESAME will both:

  • Foster scientific and technological capacities and excellence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region (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 - much focussed on issues of regional importance, e.g. related to the environment, health, and agriculture, and
  • Build scientific links and foster better understanding and a culture of peace through collaboration between peoples with different creeds and political systems.

4)   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 potential user community, which is growing rapidly and already numbers over 300, is being fostered by a series of Users' Meetings and by excellent training opportunities (supported by the IAEA, various governments and many of the world's synchrotron laboratories) which are already bringing significant benefits to the region.

5)   SESAME has benefitted greatly from help and advice from experts around the world, and from the donation of equipment that has become surplus to requirements.

6)   The Members pay annual contributions, which cover manpower and other operating costs, but (for historical reasons) have no obligation to provide capital funding, which would be beyond the means of the many Members with limited science budgets who find it hard enough to pay their annual contributions.

7)   Some $50 million has already been invested (including the value of the land and building provided by Jordan and of donated equipment, funds from Jordan and the EU, and manpower and other operating costs). On top of the manpower and operational costs which will be provided by the Members and funds already pledged ($5 million each from Iran, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, €5 million to be provided by the EU through CERN, and €1 million pledged by Italy), an additional $8 million (which could be reduced by up to $5 million by postponing some items) is still needed in 2013-15 to allow the start of commissioning in late 2015. In 2016 onwards a further $25 million will be required (on top of the Members' annual cash contributions) to reach full performance and fully equip the laboratory.

8)   SESAME was created 'bottom-up' by scientists, who persuaded their governments to join, but it now needs external top-down help and encouragement to ensure timely completion. Any delay will increase the total cost and lower the impact because SESAME could be left behind by other light-sources that are being upgraded, and the university scientists who will use SESAME (who have been waiting a long time) and the staff who are building SESAME may become demoralised. The help of CERN, funded by the EU, and the contribution from Italy, which will underwrite the timely and successful completion of SESAME, are therefore greatly appreciated by the SESAME Members.

 For further information see:

and describe the project and its history in more detail.

The future users of SESAME express their views in "Sesame synchrotron is a flash of unity in Middle East" and

Contact: Clarissa Formosa-Gauci This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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