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Inauguration of the SESAME project in the Middle East Bridges the Divide

SESAME aims to serve scientists from all over the Middle East in conducting world-class research in a diverse range of fields

The SESAME laboratory – a unique facility located in Jordan, with the aim of serving scientists from all over the Middle East – was formally inaugurated under the patronage of King Abdullah II of Jordan on May 16, 2017.

The rationale behind the project is not only to advance cutting-edge science in the region, but to help bridge divisions between countries in the Middle East – many of which have poor diplomatic relations – by serving scientists from Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, and Cyprus, with scientists from other countries participating as observers.

The SESAME project (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) has already fostered cross-cultural participation. For example, the synchrotron’s Italian technical director, Dr. Gaetano Vignola, works with a skilled team of Jordanians, Palestinians, Iranians, Moroccans and Turks. The head of the SESAME council is Prof. Herwig Schopper from Switzerland, and the scientific director, Prof. Khaled Toukan, is also Jordan’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Prof. Irit Sagi of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, is a member of the project’s international steering committee, with Weizmann Institute’s Profs. Ada Yonath and Joel Sussman being actively involved in the project.

The layout of the SESAME machine and the beam lines
The layout of the SESAME machine and the beam lines

SESAME is a large, ring-shaped pipe, which accelerates particles to near-light speeds. Though a particle accelerator, scientists use it as a giant microscope: as the particles are accelerated, they emit light so powerful that extremely tiny particles of matter – at the scale of molecules and atoms – can be seen. This makes it valuable for conducting world-class research in a diverse range of fields, from nanotechnology, atomic medicine, spectroscopy, and atomic and molecular physics to archaeology, environmental science, biology, medical sciences, materials science, chemistry, and more. Moreover, SESAME also aims to focus research on issues of regional importance, for instance, related to the environment, health and agriculture, and to build scientific links and foster better understanding and a culture of peace through collaboration between peoples with different creeds and political systems.


Israel BDS – building dialogue through science – aims to promote the kind of international collaboration that can lead to true understanding between people. Israel BDS stands for the free and open exchange of ideas among scientists everywhere. By reporting on the benefits of Israeli-international scientific research and the web of connections that these scientists create around the world, Israel BDS takes a vibrant approach to highlighting the global necessity of continued international scientific collaboration.