Net0thon A journey toward net zero, powered by innovation
The three-day event was visited by nearly 11,000 members of the public, including approximately 2,700 students.
“Our ambition is no longer bound by the latest modern science in the pursuit of net zero as an ambition sought by the global industrial elites. Rather, the goal of competent Saudi minds is to take the initiative and compete in this field and contribute to making our planet a better place for human life and all beings.”
With these inspiring words, Khaled A. Al-Buraik, senior vice president of Southern Area Oil Operations (SAOO), began his speech at the opening ceremony of Aramco’s “Net0thon” — an exhibition providing a platform for a marathon of creative competition intended to focus on net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, held recently at the Dhahran Expo.
“We work in line with the Kingdom’s inspiring Vision 2030 and Aramco’s ambition to reach net zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2050,” Al-Buraik added. “We plan to meet our business targets by leveraging innovations that are driven by the energy of our young employees. Our approach is based on three main pillars: digital transformation in business, a circular economy that strives to protect the environment, and training Saudis to help achieve greater heights, all toward preserving natural resources for future generations.”
Net0thon’s competitions, lectures, and various educational activities attracted a record attendance, reflecting interest from all sectors of the Kingdom. The three-day event was visited by nearly 11,000 members of the public, including approximately 2,700 students. A wide variety of students attended from different backgrounds and abilities, including those from the Mawhiba program, as well as students from Aramco’s Industrial Training Centers and those with disabilities.
An impressive 1,388 creative ideas aimed at reducing carbon emissions were submitted by visitors from different age groups, diverse perspectives, and various professional and educational backgrounds.
Sustainability workshops and interactive experiences were delivered by partner companies, government agencies, and universities, including Baker Hughes, Emerson, ENOWA (NEOM), Halliburton, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Siemens Energy, SLB, and STC.
One of the exhibition’s public sessions — on Intellectual Property Management — broke the Guinness World Record for the largest intellectual property lesson. More than 750 participants attended in person or remotely via live streaming to venues in Riyadh and Jiddah, in collaboration with Tuwaiq Academy. Over three days, approximately 2,600 participants attended Net0thon technical workshops via live streaming.
Net0thon was the result of exceptional effort over many months. The initiative began in May 2023 when SAOO, in collaboration with Digital and Information Technology (D&IT) and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, held the first phase, which lasted for five days in the Dhahran Techno Valley.
This first phase saw 28 teams — made up of 131 male and female participants from Aramco and three Saudi universities — compete to answer the question: “How can we rapidly create a net zero carbon economy to manage climate change?”
All submitted solutions were evaluated by a judging panel that included subject matter experts from Aramco, academia, and venture capitalists. The ideas of the six teams whose solutions were judged to have the highest potential impact were showcased at the Net0thon, inspiring exhibition attendees.
Maryam Al-Fadhli, a Computer Science student at King Faisal University, commented: “Attending this exhibition was a turning point in my thinking and understanding of the importance of net zero. The slogan of this initiative, ‘Be the Turning Point for a More Sustainable Future,’ helps enhance the consciousness of individuals. Innovative solutions cannot be achieved without the active awareness of individuals.”
Immersive learning journey
Visitors journeyed through the Net0thon exhibition with the end goal in mind — innovating toward net zero. An “inspiration” phase socialized the six solutions that won the Net0thon competition held in May. Other innovative ideas and phases of the exhibition, such as the Net0-Science museum and an Exploratorium zone, helped inspire creative thinking among visitors.
Additionally, visitors learned about Aramco’s environmental protection and emissions reduction projects and had the opportunity to measure their personal carbon footprint, while learning how to make positive changes.
At the Net0thon “innovation” phase, visitors entered the creativity studio intending to formulate and crystallize their ideas (and submit them digitally). Ideas were sharpened by addressing thought provoking challenges.
A “Robot Academy” that showcased a range of robots designed and programmed by young Saudis between the ages of 12 and 18 was among the most popular educational corners of the exhibition. The wide variety of tasks carried out by these robots reflected the ability of the youngsters to create innovative solutions that contribute to saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.
Upstream president Nasir K. Al-Naimi inaugurated Net0thon, attending with members of executive management, who praised the exhibition and the resulting ideas.
Al-Naimi said: “I was proud of what I saw in this pioneering event, which was led by Aramco and brought many companies, universities, and national sectors together to contribute to the net zero ambition and help protect the world for generations to come. This unique initiative is expected to provide a rich and powerful platform to inspire and encourage all segments of society to think critically and creatively.
“I was impressed by the young Saudi minds and I felt confident and reassured that tomorrow can be better, God willing, in the hands of future Saudi generations,” Al-Naimi added.
Nabil A. Al Nuaim, senior vice president of D&IT, said: “We are using digitalization to help strengthen the company’s emissions reduction efforts and support our net zero aspirations. With events such as the Net0ton, we aspire to continue to expand and identify more solutions to help support Aramco and Saudi Arabia’s net zero ambitions.
“The creative ideas that I saw in this exhibition are proof that Saudi youth is able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world and help lead the digital transformation,” he added.
Nasser J. Al Shahrani, director (A) of the SAOO Technical Support Department, summed up future ambitions: “Today may seem like the end, but in reality, it is the beginning. The team can evaluate the best ideas and consider implementing them. We also plan to explore patenting ideas that have unique intellectual property. Further, we intend to seek cooperation with business incubators to adopt these ideas and help capture their monetary values, all while striving to benefit the environment.
“At the same time, we can start working on the next edition of Net0thon with a greater vision and ambition, encouraged by our success this year and motivated by the support and empowerment we have received from leadership,” Al Shahrani added.
Caption for top photo: Nasir K. Al-Naimi inaugurates Net0thon — an exhibition providing a platform for a marathon of creative competition to focus on net zero.