The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said that its troops have rescued a British oil engineer being held hostage by al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen.

UAE troops rescued Douglas Semple from an undisclosed location in Yemen, the official Emirates News Agency reported on Sunday.

Semple, 64, was brought back to Aden and subsequently flown to Abu Dhabi where he was met by UAE officials and the British ambassador, the report said.

It said Semple, 64, had been working as a petroleum engineer in the Yemeni province of Hadramawt when he was kidnapped in February 2014

Britain's foreign ministry confirmed the release of a UK citizen in a UAE military intelligence operation.

"We are very grateful for the assistance of the UAE," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.

Foreign nationals have frequently been targeted by kidnappers in Yemen. Some are thought to have been abducted by opportunistic criminals who subsequently sold them on to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

A French hostage kidnapped in the capital Sanaa in February was freed earlier this month, apparently after mediation by neighbouring Oman.

In December a US and a South African hostage held by AQAP were killed in a failed rescue attempt by US forces.

UAE troops are supporting pro-government forces against Houthi rebels who control Sanaa and most of the north of the country.

The anti-Houthi fighters have seized control of Aden and much of the south in recent weeks, with fierce fighting now taking place in central Yemen.

The UAE is also part of a Saudi-led alliance carrying out air raids and a naval blockade against the mainly Shia Houthis.

Source: Agencies