Great minds work together for the Middle East synchrotron: Open Sesame


Beamline scientist Mahmoud Abdellatief is the first staff member from the Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications In the Middle East (SESAME) to come to the ESRF in the framework of the OPEN SESAME programme. The initiative promotes interaction among personnel from various synchrotrons and SESAME to assist in the construction phase of the machine.

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“This experience will help me to figure out the best design for our beamline so that we can exploit it to the maximum with the scientists in the community”, says Mahmoud Abdellatief, beamline responsible at SESAME. He is at the ESRF during three weeks to exchange views with ESRF scientists on the specifications of the diffraction beamline at SESAME, thanks to the EU programme OPEN SESAME. He will then stay at ALBA, the Spanish synchrotron source. His goals for his stay include finishing the technical specifications for the diffractometer and defining what set-ups and techniques the experimental station will enable. He is on ID22, the beamline led by Andy Fitch, but he will be meeting up with other scientists during his stay.

SESAME is the new synchrotron currently being built in Jordan for the Middle East scientific community. The facility is in its early days, so there are some hurdles to overcome: “The beginings of a project like this one are always tough, and it won’t be until we have the first results that non-scientists will start believing in it”, he says.

The challenge is big: there is no other synchrotron source in the Middle East, there are sometimes delays in the arrival of material and there are many cultural differences between the member states. Abdellatief explains that “this situation is relatively common in almost all synchrotrons, which are places where many different scientists work towards the same target: to let knowledge lead to a better future. Our countries are close to each other but we are very different. I think we have to embrace diversity because at the end of the day it brings up good ideas to the table”. 


Mahmoud Abdellatief and Andy Fitch have worked together to define the specifications of the diffraction beamline at SESAME. Credits: C. Argoud.

Text by Montserrat Capellas Espuny

Top image: Andy Fitch and Mahmoud Abdellatief on beamline ID22. Credits: C. Argoud.