JEDDAH: The United Arab Emirates denied Sunday claims that a prominent member of the Qatari royal family has been held in the country against his will.
An official source at UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani was a guest of the United Arab Emirates at his request and was given the due hospitality and care after he resorted to the state as a result of restrictions imposed by the Qatari government against him, UAE’s WAM news agency reported on Sunday.
The ministry also confirmed that "Sheikh Abdullah was received with generosity and he is free in his movements and expressed his desire to leave the country where all procedures were facilitated without any interference hindering this procedure."
Sheikh Abdullah earlier appeared in a viral video aired by Doha-based news network Al Jazeera saying that he was invited by Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed, who later held him against his own will.
"I am a guest of Sheikh Mohammed but it is not hosting now, it is now an imprisonment," Sheikh Abdullah says. "They told me not to leave and I am afraid something will happen to me and they blame Qatar."
He adds: "I just wanted to let you know that Qatar is innocent in this and I am being hosted by Sheikh Mohammed and anything that happens to me after this is under his responsibility."
The ministry source expressed regret over the allegations that accompanied Sheikh Abdullah's request to leave the UAE, stressing that these "practices and allegations have become a continuous approach to the State of Qatar in its management of the crisis."
Earlier, Al Thani took a step toward a peace process with Saudi Arabia and the UAE and called on the Qatari people to reconcile with the Gulf house, where he has held high-profile meetings with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Soon after those meetings, Saudi Arabia announced that all Qatari pilgrims are allowed over the border for the Hajj pilgrimage, contrary to Qatari claims of a ban on its citizens.
The UAE is a member of the Anti-Terror Quartet — along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt — boycotting Qatar following terror-related accusations.
Tweets by Ali Rashid al-Nuaimi, who heads Abu Dhabi's Hedayah counter-extremism Center, also denied the accusation saying that Sheikh Abdullah had asked to move to the Emirates for his "safety."
"A trusted source confirmed to me that Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani is free to leave the UAE for any destination he chooses and he can leave whenever he likes," al-Nuaimi stressed through his official Twitter account.
Another Qatari opposition figure Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim al Thani tweeted saying that the video is outdated and has been recorded in a previous occasion under “known circumstances” . He added that the truth about it would soon be revealed.
Meanwhile, Qatar Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lolwa al-Khater released a statement saying that the country is observing the situation “closely.”
"We have observed in the past similar behavior by the blockading nations 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,” al-Khater said.
The Qatari Sheikh headed the equestrian and camel racing federation decades ago.
The diplomatic crisis between the Gulf countries and Egypt started on June 5 with the four countries severing all ties with Doha over its support of terrorists and close ties to Iran.
The US, which has tens of thousands of its troops stationed at Qatar's al-Udeid Air Base as part of its campaign against Daesh and the war in Afghanistan, has sought to end the crisis.
US President Donald Trump has made comments supporting the Arab nations' efforts at taking a stand against terrorism.
Al Jazeera news network shared a tweet on its official Twitter account showing the exiled sheikh speaking of his alleged detention.