KUWAIT: A controversial member of Qatar’s royal family who accused the United Arab Emirates of detaining him has flown to Kuwait, his family said Tuesday. Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, who emerged as a key figure in the dispute between Gulf states in the weeks after Riyadh and Abu Dhabi cut ties with Doha last June, left the UAE with his daughters. Kuwait is one of the Gulf states to remain outside the conflict and has acted as a mediator during the eight-month long dispute.
“My father is on his plane to Kuwait with his two daughters,” said his son 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.” Sheikh Ali added that his father’s health was “not stable” and he was suffering from heart disease and diabetes.
Sheikh 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”.
In August, Sheikh Abdullah met powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to mediate on reopening a land border to allow Qatari pilgrims to perform the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah. It was the first public high-level encounter between the two nations since the diplomatic crisis erupted. The spat over Sheikh Abdullah was the latest row in the ongoing political crisis between rival Gulf states. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar on June 5 over allegations it supported Islamist extremists and had close ties to regional rival Iran. Doha denies the accusations. – Agencies