The United Arab Emirates has summoned Qatar's ambassador to formally protest against criticism of the Gulf country by a prominent religious leader who has lived in Qatar for decades, the UAE's official news agency has said.

Fares al-Nuaimi, Qatar's ambassador to the UAE, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi and handed "an official letter of protest" over "insults" by Muslim leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, WAM news agency reported on Sunday.

In a sermon two weeks ago delivered at a mosque in the Qatari capital, Doha, and broadcast by state television, Qaradawi condemned the UAE as a country which was against Islamic rule, UAE media reported.

His comments came just days after the UAE jailed a group of 30 Emiratis and Egyptians to terms ranging from three months to five years for forming a Muslim Brotherhood cell, AFP news agency reported. 

"We have waited for our neighbour to express a clear rejection of this insolence and to offer sufficient clarifications and assurances for this misrepresentation and incitement against the UAE," WAM quoted UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash as saying.

"But unfortunately, and despite the self restraint and calm approach, we found no desire or response for such a thing from the brothers in Qatar," he added.

On Saturday, Qatari Foreign Minister Dr Khalid al-Attiyah distanced from Qaradawi's remarks.

"The foreign policy of Qatar is expressed and conveyed only through the official channels of the state," Attiyah said, according to the state run Qatar News Agency.

"The security of the United Arab Emirates is part of our security" he added.

A Qaradawi aide told Reuters news agency that the religious leader had expressed his own views and that he would not stop, adding that "Qatar allows him to say what he wants as an individual and that no one had called him over the remarks".

Meanwhile, Dr Mahmood al-Jaidah, a Qatari doctor, remains in prison in the UAE after being detained there since last February.

Al-Jaidah has been charged with ties to the banned al-Islah group, that UAE believes has links to Muslim Brotherhood.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies