The son of the Fujairah emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly approached Qatari officials and sought political asylum in the energy-rich Persian Gulf kingdom.
According to a report published by Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Akhbar daily newspaper, Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi, who is the Chairman of Fujairah Culture and Media Authority (FCMA), went to the Qatari Embassy in London on May 19, and requested asylum.
An informed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Emirati prince stayed at the Qatari diplomatic mission for three days, where he revealed many innermost secrets to officials there.
On May 23, al-Sharqi was transported in a diplomatic car from the Qatari Embassy to Heathrow Airport. He was flown to Qatar on board a private plane, and entered Doha using his diplomatic passport.
The Emirati authorities, not having heard of the prince for a while, contacted British officials to know his whereabouts as he had not referred to the UAE Embassy in London, and there were no indications he had been kidnapped from his residence at the 45 Park Lane.
The source stated that al-Sharqi had booked a suite at the hotel for two consecutive months, but had only spent 34 days there.
The source went on to say that British police confirmed a meeting between al-Sharqi and a Qatari sheikh in the lobby of 45 Park Line hotel on the same day that he disappeared.
British official also informed the Abu Dhabi government that the Emirati prince had not been abducted, but rather had willfully gone to the Qatari Embassy.
The report comes as Qatar is in the midst of a Saudi-led diplomatic and trade boycott.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”
The administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
On June 9, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.
On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.
The document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.