Why a synchrotron light source in the Middle East?
Synchrotron radiation is nowadays considered an essential way of promoting many modern technologies and fostering interdisciplinary activities.
Synchrotron light sources were initially built exclusively in the developed world. Owing to their wide impact across the scientific spectrum with quite often 'near-market' benefits, many of the rapidly emerging economies, including Brazil, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand have built their own sources. There are now (in 2020) some 50 synchrotron light sources in operation in more than 20 countries serving about 50,000 scientists. More are under construction or in various stages of planning. Even taking into account the new sources under development, the rapid growth of the user community and ever-increasing range of applications will outpace the available supply of synchrotron light for the foreseeable future.
Notwithstanding this, until the advent of SESAME no such facility existed in the Middle East, although a need for this had been recognised by eminent scientists such as the Pakistani Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam in the early-eighties already.
This need was also felt by the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) and Middle East-based MESC (Middle East Scientific Cooperation) group that took concrete action in the 1990s to set up the SESAME light source.