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Qatari royal 'held' in UAE flies to Kuwait

Abdullah Al-Thani arrives in Kuwait after releasing video saying he was in custody of UAE crown prince
Screengrab from video wherein Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani said he was detained in the UAE (Screengrab)

A controversial member of Qatar's royal family, who accused the United Arab Emirates of detaining him, has flown to Kuwait where he was taken to hospital, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, who emerged as a key figure in the Gulf states dispute in the weeks after Riyadh and Abu Dhabi cut ties with Doha, left the UAE with his daughters, his family said.

"My father is on his plane to Kuwait with his two daughters," said his son, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al-Thani.

"After arriving in Kuwait and checking his health, he will decide to return to Qatar or travel abroad for treatment."

Ali added that his father's health was "not stable" and he was suffering from heart disease and diabetes.

Abdullah, seen by some as a potential challenger to the Qatari leadership, had posted a video online on Sunday saying he was detained in the UAE and "afraid something could happen to me that will be blamed on Qatar".

The UAE denied Sheikh Abdullah was being held against his will, with state news agency WAM reporting he was in the country "at his own behest".

It also said he was "free to leave."

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar on 5 June over allegations it supported militants and had close ties with regional rival Iran.

Translation: Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani at the airport in Abu Dhabi two days after the release of a video wherein he talked about his detention in the UAE.

Qatar denies the accusations and says the Saudi-led bloc is aiming to topple the government in Doha.

In August, Sheikh Abdullah met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to mediate on reopening a land border to allow Qatari pilgrims to perform the annual Hajj to Mecca.

At the start of the crisis, Abdullah appeared as a defector against the Qatari royal family. He urged his home country’s rulers to stop “interfering” in other Gulf nations’ affairs and said that Qatari authorities had frozen his assets and bank accounts.

"I wish Qatar... to return to its Gulf brothers as there is no one else to count on," he tweeted in October.

But in a mysterious turn of events, he released a video on Sunday saying he was being held hostage by the UAE’s powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed.

"I am now in Abu Dhabi, where I was a guest of Sheikh Mohammed" bin Zayed al-Nahyan, he said.

"That is no longer the case. I am now detained. I want to make clear that the people of Qatar are innocent. Sheikh Mohammed bears full responsibility for anything that happens to me."

The UAE has been also accused of barring its former guest, the Egyptian former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, from leaving the country before deporting him early in December.

Saudi Arabia also faced allegations of detaining Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last year after pressuring him to resign. He later withdrew his resignation.

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