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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Staff of Qatari royal family member disappear after palace seizure 

Families of Moroccan staff plea for information after they lost contact with them when the place in Doha was raided

Staff of a Qatari sheikh have gone missing after authorities seized the royal’s assets including the palace at which they worked, their families told The National.

Qatari forces on Thursday moved against Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani, a second member of the royal family who has been critical of the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim, Sky News Arabia reported.

The families of palace staff, Mustafa Al Sadqawi and Yunis Al Farsi, said they have gone missing.

Kowthar Al Farsi, sister of Yunis, said it has been ten days since her family spoke to her brother.

“I know him, we spoke every day and now I don’t know what’s happened, no warning nothing at all and there’s still no news of where he is,” she said from Morocco.

She said that her since her brother began working for the sheikh in Qatar three years ago, he made daily phone calls back home to check up on the status of his family and to reassure them.

However, on October 8, the 29 year-old Moroccan stopped calling home and all attempts to reach him have failed with his mobile appearing to be switched off.

“I know him, he wouldn’t want to make any problems, hopefully God will find him a way,” Kowthar said.

Sky News Arabia said the palace in Doha was raided last Thursday as state security forces "assaulted workers there and took important documents".

The Arabic news channel referenced unnamed sources, stating that "the palace of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani in Doha was broken into last Thursday night by an armed unit from state security forces."

Another staff has also reportedly gone missing, however those close to him wanted to stay anonymous. They said that they lost contact with Mustafa around ten days ago.

The family member said that she had no news of her brother and began asking The National if they had any information on where the palace staff had gone.

Sheikh Suhaim had spoken out last month against the government in Doha, and in support of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali’s calls to reassess Qatari leadership. Similar moves to seize Sheikh Abdullah’s assets were made on Saturday.

Sheikh Abdullah currently resides in Saudi Arabia, and has said he would like to mediate to help end the Qatar crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have boycotted Qatar and accused its leadership of supporting support for militant and extremists groups.

On Saturday, Sheikh Abduallah said: "The Qatari regime has honoured me by freezing all my bank accounts".

Sheikh Abdullah belongs to a branch of the Al Thani royal family, which has seen its power eroded but is still well-connected.

"I wish Qatar … to return to its Gulf brothers as there is no one else to count on," he said on his Twitter account, which was only created days after the relatively unknown sheikh gained regional media coverage.

Prior to that, the sheikhs were little known, however Sheikh Abdullah’s grandfather, father, and brother were all rulers of Qatar and had wide followings.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali, Sheikh Abdullah’s half-brother, was toppled by Emir Tamim’s grandfather, Khalifa bin Hamad. The Qatari palace witnessed another coup when Sheikh Hamad, his son, ousted the now deceased ruler ending his 23-year rule.

The sheikh left his post as the founder and chairman of the Qatar Equestrian Foundation in 1988 and has lived in Saudi Arabia for decades.