Abu Dhabi: The UAE denied on Sunday, claims made by Doha that a Qatari Shaikh was being held in Abu Dhabi against his will.

Shaikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, a little-known royal, whose father and brother ruled Qatar until the 1970s, emerged as a key figure in the dispute between Qatar and the Arab Quartet comprising of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

He is seen by some as a potential challenger to the Qatari leadership.

According to an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Shaikh Abdullah was warmly welcomed in the UAE after he requested to come here to escape pressure and harassment by  the Qatari regime.

“Shaikh Abdullah Al Thani expressed his desire to leave the UAE and was provided with all help needed to facilitate his departure from the UAE,” the ministry source said.

The source “expressed regret over the allegations and baseless statements that coincided with the departure of Shaikh Abdullah Al Thani,” said the statement, carried by WAM.

It noted “such allegations and practices have become a continuous approach by Qatar in the way of handling its crisis.”

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar over its continuous support of extremists and terrorist organisations, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Repeated attempts at reconciliation have failed because Qatar has refused to meet the demands of the quartet. “There is no way the crisis can be resolved without Qatar changing its policy,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash said on Saturday.