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Qatar monitoring Sheikh Abdullah's 'detention' in UAE

UAE denies holding Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani against his will, saying he is a guest and free to go when he wants.

Authorities in Qatar announced they are "closely monitoring" the alleged detention of a member of the Qatari royal family in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani released a video statement on Sunday saying he was "a prisoner" in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, and that if anything happened to him, "Sheikh Mohammed" is responsible.

While he did not specify, Sheikh Abdullah appeared to be referring to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

"I am currently in Abu Dhabi. I was a guest of Sheikh Mohammed. I am no longer a guest; I am a prisoner," he said in the video, which was widely circulated on social media.

"They told me not to leave. I am afraid that anything could happen to me, and the people of Qatar would be blamed. So I just wanted to inform you that if anything happens to me, the people of Qatar are innocent," added Sheikh Abdullah.

"I am a guest of Sheikh Mohammed, and if anything happens to me after this, he is fully responsible."

'Guest to the UAE'

The UAE's foreign ministry denied that Sheikh Abdullah was being held against his will.

A statement published by the official Emirati news agency (WAM) cited a source at the ministry as saying that "Qatar's Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani has come as a guest to the UAE, at his own behest".

"Sheikh Abdullah enjoyed the warm welcome and gracious hospitality during his stay in the UAE, after he was harassed by Qatari Government. The source added that Sheikh Abdullah has had unrestrained mobility and freedom of movement during his stay in the UAE," the statement added.

However, Qatar News Agency (QNA) released a statement on Sunday saying Sheikh Abdullah appeared "to be speaking of his detention".

READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Lolwa al-Khater, a spokesperson for Qatar's foreign ministry, said in remarks to QNA that "the State of Qatar is closely monitoring the situation, but due to the total severance of ties with the UAE it is difficult to clearly establish the circumstances surrounding the situation".

"Despite that, the State of Qatar principally stands with the protection of rights for every individual and affirms the entitlement of his family to pursue all legal means for the protection of his rights," she said.

Al-Khater added: "We have seen similar behaviour in the past by the siege countries where rights of individuals and officials alike are violated in total contravention of international norms, conventions and laws with no clear purpose or valid reasoning."

Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Thani, brother of the detained, said his family heard from Sheikh Abdullah that he is "being denied to leave the UAE", and he is "confused about all the information he's getting there."

The detained Qatari royal was told in the days leading up to his video that he and his two daughters could not travel to the UK but could travel to Saudi Arabia, then one night around midnight they were told to go to the airport to fly to the UK.

While at the airport, the "information changed," Sheik Khalid said, and the family was told the UK had denied their entry, which the brother claimed "wasn't true."

Sheikh Abdullah is a son of a Qatari emir who ruled in the 1960s, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani. He dropped off the radar for decades but rose to prominence last summer, when a major diplomatic crisis broke out in the Gulf.

After Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar in June, Sheikh Abdullah appeared frequently on Saudi and UAE television programmes expressing his views in support of the measures against Doha.

At an Arab League meeting in Cairo in September, Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad al-Muraikhi said Saudi Arabia was looking to depose Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and replace him with Sheikh Abdullah.


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