Abu Dhabi: The first day of the Fourth International Heritage Symposium, which began yesterday, saw more than 60 academics, researchers and experts from around the region and world discuss the role of education in preserving heritage.

The conference is organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach) under the theme of Heritage and Education: A Future Vision, and will run until Thursday.

"Education plays a significant role in the protection of heritage, as does the handing down of cultural knowledge from one generation to another. As a result of this, the relationship between heritage and education has become an integrated one that is based on common aims.

"It is in the interests of the people who are working to promote and safeguard our heritage that this relationship is strengthened and perfected," Mohammad Khalafi Al Mazroui, Director General, Adach, said.

Among the first topic discussed was the relationship between educational institutions and their role in preserving the heritage of their countries, at a session entitled Heritage and Education: A General Framework — Interrelations, which was chaired by Dr Nasr Mohammad Arif, the Head of the Islamic Studies Department at Zayed University.

"The shortest way to protect the future of Arab societies is to connect them to selected parts of their heritage that will help them grow.

This important issue must be taken seriously and sensitively as when we lose that connection to our heritage, we are at risk of being manipulated or influenced by outside sources," Dr Aref told Gulf News.

Professor Dr Mohammad Bin Fatima, from Tunisia, noted that there is an inherent conflict of heritage, which is a problem countries face in preserving their own heritage in the face of globalisation.