Al Mahmoud used to visit Shaikh Zayed’s majlis in Al Ain with his father, who was the leader’s personal secretary since 1952. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Altruism, nobility and selflessness were the defining characteristics of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which helped him accomplish his aim of nation-building and inspiring Emiratis to adopt noble values, said a 62-year-old Emirati man, who considers the UAE’s founding father “his first school of learning”.

“I feel fortunate that I had my initial lessons from one of the most charismatic and visionary persons of the country; I was barely eight years old then,” Abu Dhabi resident Mohammad Ahmad Al Mahmoud told Gulf News.

Al Mahmoud began visiting Shaikh Zayed’s majlis in Al Ain and keenly absorbed his vision for nation-building.

Al Mahmoud’s father, who was personal secretary to Shaikh Zayed since 1952, would accompany him to the majlis.

A memorable value he cherishes from those days is the virtue of respecting and caring for others.

“Shaikh Zayed was a very humble person who always showered kindness on others and shared their grief without discriminating among nationalities, religion, caste and colour of people,” said Al Mahmoud, who has served as the former ambassador to Pakistan, Egypt and Germany. “He treated everybody with equal respect whether they were expats or citizens.”

He also worked under Shaikh Zayed’s leadership in various government departments in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

“We learnt from Shaikh Zayed to never give up and keep striving until you reach your goal. We also learnt the value of being patient, caring for others, respecting each other and the importance of humility,” Al Mahmoud said.

One of the most profound values Shaikh Zayed espoused was humanitarianism. “Shaikh Zayed not only provided humanitarian assistance to the people inside the country, he also reached out to the needy people around the world,” Al Mahmoud said.

These qualities ensured that Shaikh Zayed’s dream of unification of the emirates became a reality in 1971, he added.