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Formation of the Arab Physical Society

writerSameen Ahmed Khan

Vol.32 (Jun) 2022 | Article no.16-4 2022

Formation of the Arab Physical Society

Sameen Ahmed Khan

The Arab Physical Society was formally launched with a day-long online event on April 7, 2022. The event was headlined with presentations by eminent physicists including Nobel laureates (Gerard 't Hooft, 1999, Takaaki Kajita, 2015 and Roger Penrose, 2020), Dirac medallists (Edward Witten, 1985, John Ellis, 2005 and Charles Kane, 2012) and a Fields medallist (Edward Witten, 1990). The presentations covered important physics research topics of contemporary interest. The inaugural address was given by Prince Hassan Ben Talal of Jordan, a strong advocate of science for several decades [1]. The event was attended by over 1700 participants.

On June 7, 2021, the Arab Physical Society (ArPS) was registered as a non-profit membership organization. To date, over four hundred persons have registered as members. The mission of the ArPS is to promote excellence and creativity in the field of physics for the benefit of the Arab region and humanity, and specifically, to encourage scientific and research collaboration among researchers and students in the Arab region. Its objectives are as follows:

1. To organize scientific and educational activities;

2. To join other physical societies and relevant international scientific institutions to reduce the knowledge gap in physics between the Arab world and developed countries;

3. To spread physics education and knowledge through conferences, seminars, workshops, and summer and winter schools in the fields of physics, in addition to delivering specialized and public lectures;

4. To establish a peer-review journal in fundamental physics and applications;

5. To promote interactions among individuals, institutions, and organizations with an interest in physics, especially among members of the Arab Physical Society; and

6. To address ethical issues arising from scientific topics.

The Arab Physical Society has established an organizational structure through its governing council, advisory committee, and focal point. Each of these governing bodies has seven members of which three are women. The advisory committee consists of physicists from institutions in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, and Syria. Shaaban Khalil, a high-energy physicist, is the founding president of ArPS. He is the director at the Fundamental Physics Center at the Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt [2-3]. A membership drive is underway in several categories including (1) honorary membership (to distinguished Arab physicists living inside or outside the Arab world); (2) regular membership; (3) student and early career membership; (4) associate membership (to physicists with distinguished research profile without conditions on their citizenship); and (5) organizations/foundations membership. ArPS is scheduled to have an Annual General Assembly and a series of events throughout the year. The upcoming major events sponsored by the ArPS include the International Conference on Neutrinos and Dark Matter, which will be held from September 25-28, 2022, at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt [1]. ArPS membership is open to any person working or interested in physics, related science, and engineering irrespective of nationality or place of residence. There is a nominal annual membership fee of fifty euros [1].

The organizers, distinguished speakers, and the numerous participants are very enthusiastic that the Arab Physical Society will go a long way in fostering physics research and education in the Arab world. John Ellis summarized their aspirations, "The establishment of the Arab Physical Society and this inaugural event will help physics in the region gain international visibility and consolidate links between physicists across the region." The ArPS is, according to its website, also keen to foster diversity "to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion and culture." Physics has progressed in the Middle East in recent decades. Apart from the university-level areas of progress, there have been joint international initiatives such as the initiative with SESAME: Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East in Jordan [4-5]. There has been participation in the activities at CERN: European Organization for Nuclear Research, Geneva Switzerland [6]. In passing, we note that an organization by the same name, the Arab Physical Society (ARPS) was formed in 1974 by Antoine Benjamin Zahlan, who was a physics professor at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon. The objective of ARPS was "the advancement and progress of science, especially physics, in the Arab world." Little is documented about this attempt from 1974 [7].


1. Arab Physical Society, https://www.arabphysicalsociety.org/.

2. S. A. Khan, Ahmed Hassan Zewail (1946-2016), Current Science, 111 (05), 936-937 (2016); http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/111/05/0936.pdf.

3. M. Chergui, Ahmed Hassan Zewail, Physics Today, 69 (12), 69 (2016); https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.3406.

4. S. A. Khan, SESAME: The First Synchrotron Facility in the Middle East, AAPPS Bulletin, 10 (2), 36-39 (2000); Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies.

5. T. Feder, Middle East synchrotron light source is set to start up, Physics Today, 69 (12), 32 (2016); https://dx.doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.3392.

6. S. A. Khan, Joint visits to CERN with SESAME, CERN Courier, 44 (10), 34 (December 2004).

7. Editors, Arab Physical Society holds first meeting, Physics Today, 28 (6), 71 (1975); https://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3069026.