Qatari royal claims being held against his will in UAE

By @chelean on
A map of Qatar is seen in this picture illustration June 5, 2017.
A map of Qatar is seen in this picture illustration June 5, 2017. Reuters/Thomas White/Illustration

A member of the royal family of Qatar has claimed he is being detained in the United Arab Emirates. On a media broadcast on Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali al-Thani said he went to Abu Dhabi as a guest but he was held against his will instead.

“I am now in Abu Dhabi as a guest of Sheikh Mohammed, but actually not in the position of a guest but rather as a detainee,” he said in the video, probably referring to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. “I just want to inform you that if anything happens to me, don’t blame Qatar.”

The video, which was also aired by Abdullah, shows Sheikh Abdullah sitting in an armchair while delivering his statement. It could not be immediately verified.

The UAE denied the accusation, with a Foreign Ministry official saying Sheik Abdullah came to the country at his own request as a guest after the Qatari government had placed restrictions on him. His claim that he was detained against his will was “lies.”

“He is free to move about and has expressed his desire to leave the state, all procedures were facilitated for him without any obstruction,” a statement sent to the UAE state news agency WAM said.

A source in Abu Dhabi told Ali al-Naimi, editor of an online news website that heads the education department in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, that Sheikh Abdullah had moved to UAE at his own request because he feared for his safety in Qatar. Naimi said the recording had been fabricated by Qatar, Reuters reports.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said Doha was monitoring the situation. “The state of Qatar observes the situation closely, and due to the total severance of ties with the UAE, it is difficult to clearly establish the circumstances surrounding the situation,” spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater said in a statement. “Despite that, the State of Qatar principally stands with the protection of rights of every individual and affirms the entitlement of his family to pursue all legal means for the protection of his rights.”

Sheikh Abdullah emerged as a potential opposition figure in the dispute between the Gulf states, which began in June when UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain among others had cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. He is seen as a challenger to the country’s leadership after he criticised his cousins in interviews.