The Middle East’s first major international research centre for science application research was inaugurated on 16 May at Allan in Jordan. Scientists from across the region will use the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (Sesame) for advanced research projects. The centre is the region's first international centre of excellence and is modelled on the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). It was developed under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) with support from the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA).
Current members of the centre are Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey. The IAEA has provided extensive support to train staff to safely commission and run the facility. This has included the training of 66 technical and scientific fellows in beamline technologies, and over 30 expert missions to Sesame to help build capacity in the installation and testing of equipment. The project has so far cost some $90m. Staff costs, power and other operational costs are provided by annual contributions from members. Capital funding has been provided by the governments of Jordan, Israel, and Turkey, the Royal Court of Jordan, and by the European Union (through CERN and directly) and Italy.
At the heart of the facility is a synchrotron, which is capable of generating intense light beams for advanced scientific and technical research. Two beamlines will be in operation initially: an X-ray absorption fine structure/X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy beamline and an infrared Beamline. These will support work in areas such as basic materials science, life sciences and environmental science, biochemistry, microanalysis, archaeology, geology, cell biology, biomedical diagnostics, and environmental science. A third beamline to support materials science studies will come into operation in late 2017. A Macromolecular Crystallography beamline and a protein pression/crystallization facility for structural molecular biology will come into operation in 2019. The facility has the capacity to house a total of 24 beamlines. Fifty-five proposals to use the first two beamlines have already been submitted.