“The first synchrotron light source in the Middle East and neighbouring countries”

SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) is a “third-generation” synchrotron light source that was officially opened in Allan (Jordan) on 16 May 2017. It is the first synchrotron light source in the Middle East and neighbouring countries, and also the region’s first major international centre of excellence.

It is a cooperative venture by scientists and governments of the region set up on the model of CERN although it has very different scientific aims. It was developed under the auspices of UNESCO following the formal approval given for this by the Organization’s Executive Board (164th session, May 2002).

It is an autonomous intergovernmental organization at the service of its Members which have full control over its development, exploitation and financial matters. 

The heart of SESAME is a 2.5 GeV synchrotron light source (133 m in circumference), providing radiation from the Infrared light to X-rays of unparalleled quality, a unique tool to expand the boundaries of scientific investigations into new materials and living matter.


  • fostering scientific and technological excellence in the Middle East and neighbouring countries by starting to enable world-class research in subjects ranging from medicine and biology, through basic properties of materials science, physics and chemistry to health care, the environment and archaeology;
  • building scientific and cultural bridges between diverse societies, and fostering mutual understanding and tolerance through international cooperation in science; and
  • helping to prevent and reverse the brain drain that is holding back science education and research in the region.

As an intergovernmental scientific and technological centre of excellence open to all scientists from the Middle East and elsewhere, SESAME serves as a propeller for the scientific, technical, and economic development of the region, and strengthens collaboration in science.

SESAME is a widely-available ‘user facility’. Scientists, including graduate students, from universities and research institutes typically visit the Centre for a week or two, twice or three times a year, to carry out experiments, frequently in collaboration with scientists from other centres/countries, and then return home to analyze the data they have obtained. In other words, SESAME is not a source of brain drain; quite the contrary, not only do the scientists who visit SESAME take back scientific expertise and knowledge, which they will share with their colleagues and students, but it also creates a motivating scientific environment that encourages the region’s best scientists and technologists to stay in the region or to return if they have moved elsewhere.

  • Director: Khaled Toukan
  • Scientific Director: Andrea Lausi
  • Technical Director: Maher Attal
  • Administrative Director: Atef Elkadime

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