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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 28 May 2013

European Commission and CERN support major research facility in the Middle East

The European Commission and CERN have today agreed to support the construction of SESAME, one of the most ambitious research facilities in the Middle East. SESAME is a so-called synchrotron light source, functioning in effect like a giant microscope. It will allow researchers from the region to investigate the properties of advanced materials, biological processes and cultural artefacts. SESAME is a unique joint venture based in Jordan that brings together scientists from its members Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey. Alongside its scientific aims, the project aims to promote peace in the region through scientific cooperation (MEMO/13/460).

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said: "We are very happy to join forces with CERN to support one of the most exciting scientific projects in the Middle East. The SESAME facility will not only offer researchers from the region state-of-the-art facilities, it will draw attention to the big advances that can be achieved in the region through peaceful cooperation."

CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said; “SESAME is one of the most important projects in the world right now. With its close parallels to the origins of CERN, I am very happy that we are able to make this important contribution to the young laboratory’s success.”

Through the agreement announced today, the Commission will contribute €5 million, allowing CERN, working with SESAME, to supply magnets for a brand new electron storage ring - the heart of the facility. This will pave the way for SESAME to begin commissioning in 2015.

SESAME Director, Professor Khaled Toukan, said: “Construction of SESAME is progressing well and we now want the scientific programme to begin as soon as possible. The very welcome help of CERN, with the generous support of the EU, will enable this.”

The European Commission has already contributed more than €3 million to the project through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, and by supporting the SESAME networking, computing and data handling systems.


Construction of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) started in 2003. Like CERN, SESAME was established under the auspices of the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). A key impetus to launching SESAME was the donation of components from the BESSY laboratory in Berlin. Since then, a growing community of local scientists has been working closely with partner facilities from around the globe, and several other laboratories have contributed to making the SESAME facility world-class.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its member states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Romania is a candidate for accession. Israel and Serbia are associate members in the pre-stage to membership. India, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.

Press contacts

European Commission: Michael Jennings Tel. +3222963388

CERN: Tel. +41227674101

SESAME: Clarissa Formosa-Gauci




EU Research Infrastructures policy

Contacts :

Michael Jennings (+32 2 296 33 88) Twitter: @ECSpokesScience

Monika Wcislo (+32 2 295 56 04)

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