Abu Dhabi: Participants at the fourth International Heritage and Education Symposium said more action was needed to preserve the UAE's heritage.
The call was made during a session highlighting the UAE's efforts to preserve its heritage through education and the media.
The symposium was organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach).
"I was a part of a team that aired a special series on [the] UAE's heritage during Ramadan. It was a competition that aimed to not only reinforce our national identity but also to help the younger generations rediscover their heritage," Saeed Al Muhairi, Adach heritage expert, said.
"It was so successful that we received over 2,500 [text messages] per hour, compared to only 150 when we first began and we also had to increase our landline numbers from three to 18. We hope to air this programme once again this Ramadan," he added
Dr Hassan Qayed Al Subeihi and Dr Ameenah Khamis Al Daheri, from the UAE University, noted that while the country had an active history with the media, not enough was being done to reinforce and raise awareness about the UAE's heritage through various outlets — whether radio, television or print.
"Few people may be aware of this fact but the Emirati community had a relationship with the media that goes back as far as the 19th century… especially during the opening of the Suez Canal, which made it easier to import various goods from Egypt, including their newspapers," Dr Al Subeihi said.
"That led to several UAE nationals writing articles that were published in prominent newspapers there. Additionally, several Emiratis even created their own newspapers, using whatever means were at their disposal," he added.
Despite this long history, Dr Ameenah highlighted concerns that the methods of presenting and preserving this heritage in the media were inadequate, and that a specialised body should set up to address this issue.
"There is also a great misconception about our heritage in the media. Our heritage is not just what is shown during times of celebrations," she said.
"There are also our stories, songs. I recommend that a clear strategy be adopted that includes legislation and research into our traditions and history to ensure that our heritage is preserved for future generations."
A panel member asked what more could be done to raise awareness in a more dynamic manner.
"It is important teach heritage in schools because it not only preserves our values and traditions," Lubna Ali Al Tunaiji, Abu Dhabi Education Council, said in response.
"There are already several schools that are promoting Emirati heritage in a more tangible way for their students, such as by taking them on trips or creating a heritage site on their premises."