Qatar’s ambassador to the UAE has said he will look into the case of two Qatari citizens who were apparently detained at the Al Ghuwaifat border crossing between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia late last month.
The two detained men’s families have apparently complained to the Qatari government about the incident, which they said occurred on June 27.
In Qatar, local media has been reporting that the men were on holiday, while UAE press has suggested they are spies.
In a statement to QNA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the ambassador in Abu Dhabi would inquire about the fate of Hamad Ali Al Hammadi and Yousuf Abdul Samad Al Mullah.
The information comes days after Al Arab reported that three Qataris were detained while visiting the UAE and were being tortured in prison there.
That report sparked an online outcry, prompting Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to tweet:
“The State has never abandoned its people. It is taking all the necessary action through legal and diplomatic channels.”
At that time, MOFA stopped short of confirming anyone had been detained.
This may have been because, according to a ministry representative, “that the State of Qatar has not been officially informed of what had happened to the two citizens by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”
Another local newspaper, Al Sharq, later reported that only two citizens were involved.
Latest diplomatic test
Qatar and UAE relations have been growing increasingly strained over the past year for several reasons, including:
- The detention and conviction a Qatari doctor who was sentenced to seven years in UAE jail for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood;
- The withdrawal of the UAE’s ambassador from Qatar in March, which is thought to be over Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; and
- Remarks made by a senior Emirati official saying Qatar should be the UAE’s eighth emirate.
The tensions have been spilling over in the media, with Al Arab urging Qatari citizens to avoid traveling or transiting through the UAE “because of the danger of arrest and detention that this poses.”
Meanwhile, UAE press appears to be accusing the two Qataris of being spies.
According to Reuters:
“On its front page the Arabic-language al-Khaleej newspaper dismissed the assertion that those arrested were tourists, quoting unnamed sources as saying that authorities were holding ‘Qatari intelligence elements operating on UAE soil.’
‘They are currently undergoing questioning,’ the privately owned newspaper, one of the oldest in the UAE, said, without giving further details.”