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DHAHRAN: To stand where the history of Saudi Arabia – and perhaps the whole world – has changed is a powerful experience.
Barely six years after the country’s unification as a kingdom in 1932, Dhahran found black gold in its vast desert region. Today, the place where the Saudi oil industry took off honors its history and legacy.
Lujain Abahussein, head of the Energy Exhibit in Dhahran, grew up in the city, went to school a short drive away and is still very proud of the historic site where his office is located.
“The fascination is in the place. We are located near Well No. 7, the Well of Prosperity, where oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938. Here, where we are, is the Energy Exhibition, the one of the first scientific centers. in Saudi Arabia since the 1980s,” she told Arab News.
The exhibit, with its interactive screens, showcases the history of oil exploration, discovery and production – a journey of discovery that begins with the formation of oil in the shallow oceans millions of years ago. years and continues to the present day, highlighting global energy issues.
Those who grew up in Dhahran in the 1990s likely have vivid memories of visiting the Saudi Aramco Oil Expo on a rare off-campus excursion. It was revolutionary at the time – an innovative space where students were encouraged to touch, feel and perform interactive ‘experiences’.
The Reinvented Energy Expo held today, with its multi-colored glass door, is a reincarnation of the old Petroleum Expo.
Oil, the original inspiration for the previous exhibit, was used by early Arab societies for centuries before the development of drilling technology. The petroleum distillation process known today was developed by Jabir ibn Hayyan, who is considered by many to be the father of Arab chemistry. An entire space of the current exhibition is devoted to his work and his discoveries.
The Kingdom is rich in oil due to a distinct set of geological features and circumstances. Each layer of rock tells a story about how oil was formed and what the Earth was like at that time.
The exhibition explains the extraction of oil from underground rock formations through the drilling operations in the desert and the seabed, the refining process, the petrochemical industry and the global distribution networks.
Specially designed displays are designed to inspire visitors to save energy and adapt their lifestyle to protect the environment. They are also encouraged to find jobs, perhaps with Saudi Aramco, that will allow them to help their community and their country.
Abahussein is proud that the exhibition, an invaluable asset to the city of Dhahran, remains free to all visitors as the aim is to promote the breadth of Saudi Aramco’s operations and innovation, to engender a sense of discovery and to provide a wealth of knowledge and a platform for lifelong learning to serve the community at no cost.
Making “fun facts” is very much in line with the spirit of the exhibition and its mission.
The energy expo hopes to pique the interest of teenagers in Eastern Province, encouraging them to “take over” in the future. He also hopes to showcase Saudi Aramco’s multifaceted contribution to global energy needs.
Arguably the best work in the exhibition is that of Abdulrahamn Algharib, a “science communicator” who helps young visitors understand just how magical science can be. It also develops programs to explore a range of science topics and communicate information in interesting ways.
“The most exciting thing about my job is the challenges – or the little quests,” Algharib told Arab News.
“We are simplifying something that people normally consider complicated. Now we are developing electrical programs to make them available for the 9-12 age group. When I sit down with the kids, I start with questions like, “Do you see the lights on? How it works? Does the wall give us electricity or is it connected to something else? So they start thinking about it on a bigger scale. From this point we take them to the next point.
The exhibition’s hands-on approach and workshops are also in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, in which alternative energy is a major focus.
The exhibition is divided into eight zones, each dedicated to an important element dealing with Saudi Aramco’s commitment to helping the world meet its energy needs in the most sustainable way. Interactive elements show how the company controls its vast operations, as well as its technological innovations.
Most important, however, is the human creativity which continues to be the main fuel that keeps the company, the exhibition and the community alive.
Today, the Kingdom – and the world – faces a challenge to meet global energy needs while protecting the planet.
With instructions in Arabic and English, the exhibit is accessible, inclusive, and as informative as it is entertaining. Like Algharib, it begins with a simple question and encourages the visitor to probe deeper.
The primary target audience is 11-14 years old, but the space is suitable for ages 7 and up. It is also ideal for adults to play educational games.
“Our visitors tend to learn more when they’re having fun,” Abahussein said.
For more information, visit the energy exhibit on the web or find it next to the Ithra building in Dhahran, near the Saudi Aramco camp.