With the demand for gasoline and diesel expected to decline in the near future, crude-to-chemicals technologies have the potential to become the most important processes in the petrochemical industry. This trend has triggered intense research to maximize the production of light olefins and aromatics at the expense of fuels, which calls for disruptive processes able to transform crude oil to chemicals in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. Here we propose a catalytic reactor concept consisting of a multi-zone fluidized bed that is able to perform several refining steps in a single reactor vessel. This configuration allows for in situ catalyst stripping and regeneration, while the incorporation of silicon carbide in the catalyst confers it with improved physical, mechanical and heat-transport properties. As a result, this reactor–catalyst combination has shown stable conversion of untreated Arabian Light crude into light olefins with yields per pass of over 30 wt% with a minimum production of dry gas.