Controversial 'detained' Qatari sheikh leaves UAE for Kuwait

Controversial 'detained' Qatari sheikh leaves UAE for Kuwait
Controversial Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali al-Thani has left the UAE - where he said he was being held captive - for Kuwait, suffering ill health.
2 min read
17 January, 2018
Abdullah al-Thani has left the UAE where he claimed he was held captive

A controversial Qatari sheikh who broadcast a desperate video on Sunday saying he was being held captive by Abu Dhabi has left the UAE for Kuwait, his family have said.

Photos were shared on social media on Tuesday appearing to show the self-appointed Qatari opposition leader at an airport departure lounge ready to leave the UAE.

Sources told Al Jazeera that Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali al-Thani was flying out of the UAE for Kuwait. Later, his family confirmed to AFP the reports were true.

"My father is on his plane to Kuwait with his two daughters," his son Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani told the agency.

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

Abdullah al-Thani remains a hugely controversial figure in Qatar after he sided with Saudi Arabia and the UAE during their blockade of Doha which began last June.

Based in Saudi Arabia, Thani has been positioned by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as an "opposition leader" in exile.

Saudi media have regularly portrayed him as a popular opponent of Qatar ruler Emir Tamim al-Thani and broadcast videos showing him speaking to members of a Qatari tribe allegedly expelled from the Gulf state.

On Sunday, the sheikh shocked Gulf nations when he broadcast a video - where he appeared to be distressed - claiming he was being held hostage by the UAE and feared for his life.

"[I'm] afraid something could happen to me that will be blamed on Qatar," he said in the video which was shared widely on social media.

Abu Dhabi denied that he was being held captive and said he was "free to leave" the country.

His son said Abdullah had suffered a heart attack and his health was "not stable".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blockaded Qatar on 5 June, accusing Doha of supporting "extremist groups" and being too strongly allied with Iran. Doha has strongly denied the claims.

Agencies contributed to this story.