The users of SESAME are scientists, including graduate students, mostly based in universities and research institutes in the Middle East and neighbouring countries. They typically visit the laboratory for a few days to up to a week or two, to carry out experiments on the beamline that corresponds to the needs of their work, often in collaboration with scientists from other centers/countries. During their visit to SESAME, they are exposed to the highest scientific standards in a stimulating environment for international collaboration, and then return home to analyze the data they have obtained. These scientists bring back scientific expertise and knowledge, which they share with their colleagues and students at home.

SESAME’s existing and future well-equipped beamlines, experimental end stations, laboratories, and other support facilities are, and will be, available for the users, and a highly-trained scientific, technical and administrative staff ensure that both experienced and inexperienced users are successful in their experiments.

Access to the SESAME science facilities, including existing beamlines and instruments, is granted free of charge to scientists from the Members of SESAME working in relevant areas of research and training, subject to the approval of their experiments and the allocation of beam time. Scientists from non-Members (including Observers) also have access to the SESAME science facilities free of charge provided their participation contributes to maintaining or improving the intellectual, instrumental or teaching standards of the overall programme or is of exceptional scientific or technical quality, or otherwise in the clear interest of SESAME or of science in the Middle East and neighbouring regions. Their activities should be carried out preferentially in collaboration with scientists from Members. Full information on the SESAME User Policy may be downloaded here.

There is a Guest House on the SESAME campus to accommodate visiting scientists during their experiments and a Cafeteria is to be available for them.

The SESAME Users’ Committee represents the interests of users.

Users have to date been three times invited to submit proposals for beam time on SESAME’s operational beamlines, the XAFS/XRF (X-ray Absorption Fine Structure/X-ray Fluorescence) spectroscopy and IR (Infrared) spectromicroscopy beamlines in the first two calls, with the addition of the MS (Materials Science) beamline in the third. Fifty-five proposals were received for the first call in 2017, and this number has since been steadily increasing with 103 proposals having been received for the second call in 2018 and 151 for the third in 2020. These proposals were from scientists, working in disciplines ranging from the biological and medical sciences to archaeology, thus making SESAME a unique multidisciplinary centre in the region. 

Beam time for the first call for applications was granted for 28 proposals, while for the second call beam time was granted for 58 proposals. Between the two, this involved 62 user groups from 12 different countries. Until the outbreak of COVID-19, experiments for 66 of these proposals had been carried out.

The user community in the region, which already numbers very nearly 1,000 scientists, has been fostered by a variety of training opportunities and events (users’ meetings, schools and workshops) which have been supported by a range of national and international organizations. As more beamlines are built, the number of users is expected to grow still further.