Jordan: King Inaugurates Middle East First Major International Research Centre


His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday inaugurated the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) international research centre, the first of its kind in the region, according to a Royal Court statement.


SESAME, a third-generation synchrotron light source based in Allan area in the Balqa Governorate, will contribute to developing scientific research in the fields of medicine, pharmaceuticals, physics, chemistry, biology and other sciences.


His Majesty toured the centre, where he was briefed by its workers on the technology to be used there and on the operation process, the statement said.


The project's development phase gathered scientists from Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine and Turkey, in addition to several supervising countries working together to build the first scientific research lab of its kind in the region.


At the inauguration ceremony, attended by HRH Princess Sumaya and Prime Minister Hani Mulki, President of the SESAME Council Professor Chris Llewellyn Smith thanked Jordan and all countries and institutions that provided the necessary financial support to establish the research centre.


Smith said that the centre is expected to attract many scientists from the region, noting that, so far, 55 scientific research projects have been submitted to use the nuclear accelerators.


The centre will have the first accelerator in the world powered solely by solar energy, he added.


For his part, Director of SESAME Khaled Toukan highlighted the political, technical and financial challenges that faced the project’s task force.


Toukan, who is also chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, said that now the project is complete, the challenge lies in building a team of researchers and users, establishing supporting facilities including management buildings and accommodation for researchers and guests, in addition to securing financial support.


Toukan thanked His Majesty King Abdullah, the Royal Court and the government for their continuous support to the project and voiced appreciation for the contributions by member and supervising countries, along with all international and regional organisations that have supported the project.


The inauguration ceremony saw the screening of a short film about SESAME, showing the methods used to transform energy into synchrotron light and highlighting the importance of the centre as a scientific facility to exchange research among scientists in various fields, the statement said, adding that Jordan was chosen to host SESAME out of five competing countries.


The construction of the centre, worth more than $100 million, started in 2003 after an agreement signed under the UNESCO’s auspices, with most of the funding provided by member countries and support from the EU and individual European countries such as Germany, Italy, France and the UK.


Senate President Faisal Fayez, Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh, Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, King’s Office Director Jafar Hassan, several ministers and senior officials from UNESCO, the EU and member countries and ambassadors in the Kingdom attended the inauguration ceremony.



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