Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

MUHARRAM - SAFAR 1424 H
MARCH 2004
Volume 17-03 No : 207

Camps/Workshops

News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Community Initiative Globe Watch Event Diary Trends Muslim Perspectives Metro Mail Men, Missions and Machines Muharram Children's Corner Heritage Children's Corner Quran Speaks to You Hadith Fast Farword Special Space Opinion Guidelines Our Dialogue Miscellany Reflections Lessons to Learn Soul Talk Rights and Wrongs View Point Matrimonial
Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Now you can pay your subscriptions online

Fast Forward


SESAME

SESAME

Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East,

It is very ironic that the first international science centre in the Arab World in the modern age is based on a second-hand donation from Germany, with financial support from several Western countries

By Sameen Ahmed Khan

One would have gone through the experience of the X-rays in a hospital some time or the other. Apart from the very useful medical diagnostic tool, X-rays are also used in industry and a variety of applications such as materials science research, which is the backbone of the electronic revolution. There is another source of light, namely the synchrotron radiation light (SR), which is much more powerful than the traditional X-rays. Building of SR facilities is technologically challenging, requiring a team of dozens of experts even for the day-to-day running; and prohibitively costly, about several hundred million US$. In contrast the X-ray machines can be run by a single person and costs just a few thousand US$. Because of these reasons, there are very few SR facilities in despite of their numerous applications. In all, there are about fifty SR facilities in operation, in twenty-three countries. In Asia, there are twenty-nine synchrotrons located in nine countries. India has two (both at the Centre of Advanced Technology, Indore). The region of the Middle East has been just blessed.

On 6 January 2003, King Abdullah of Jordan laid the cornerstone for the Middle East's first (actually, the first among the Muslim countries) synchrotron known as SESAME: Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, in presence of the UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, members of the Jordanian government and international dignitaries including, Werner Burkart, Deputy Director General of IAEA. SESAME is located in Allaan, about 30 kms from the Capital Amman. SESAME is based on the upgraded reincarnation of the BESSY-I Synchrotron (worth about sixty million US$), which Germany gifted to the region of the Middle East. The Centre will be operated and supported by its 13 Interim Council Members: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Turkey and United Arab Emirates with observer countries including, Armenia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Russia, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. Several other countries are expected to join this new fount of science and medium of international cooperation. SESAME shall serve as a seed for a regional international research centre, open to scientists in the region and beyond. Such a Centre has been long overdue and it will be the first one of its kind in the region. The founders of the SESAME Project envisage a facility similar in aim to the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, which brought together numerous scientists from countries that had fought each other during the two World Wars.

We need to recall the glorious period of science and technology in the Arab World few centuries back. So far as the sciences are concerned, the Muslim Ummah has a very proud past---still a past. For about 350 years from 0750 CE to 1100 CE, the Ummah had an absolute ascendancy in all the fields of knowledge then known, from Astronomy to Zoology. This is known as the Golden Age of Science in the Islamic World. From 1100 CE and for another 250 years, we shared this ascendancy with the emerging Europe. From the 15th century we progressively lost out. This period of continuous decline paradoxically coincides with the great Empires of Islam: Osmani in Turkey; Sufvi in Iran; and Mughal in India. By about 1500, this decline was complete. During the Golden Age of Science in Islam, Muslims made numerous and multi-disciplinary contributions to humanity and the Islamic civilization. It is difficult to say for certain about all the causes responsible for the decline of science in Islam. However, it is very certain that the priorities (of the rulers) have been very different for too long a time. As a very glaring example: while the Europeans were busy making numerous Universities and Institutions, the Mughal Emperors were busy making Palaces and Tombs! Does the Ummah need such un-Islamic and anti-Islamic monuments? That too at the expense of the public apathy! It is very ironic that the first international science centre in the Arab World in the modern age is based on a second-hand donation from Germany, with financial support from several Western countries. Will the present day rulers care to build Palaces of Science, the Centres of Advanced Studies (Bait-ul-Hikmas)? Will they ever strive to create the Commonwealth of Sciences for Islamic Countries (Ummat-al-Ilm)? Unless and until steps are taken to address the above questions in a realistic manner, there can be no renaissance of sciences in the Islamic countries, leave alone the ambitions of the creation of a political commonwealth. Without these, the Muslim countries (and their citizens) will never be able to lead a normal existence-full of dignity in the comity of nations.

The writer can be reached at sakhan@mecit.edu.om

Top


News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Community Initiative Globe Watch Event Diary Trends Muslim Perspectives Metro Mail Men, Missions and Machines Muharram Children's Corner Heritage Children's Corner Quran Speaks to You Hadith Fast Farword Special Space Opinion Guidelines Our Dialogue Miscellany Reflections Lessons to Learn Soul Talk Rights and Wrongs View Point Matrimonial
Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

Al-Nasr Exports