“Ramadan” beggar collected more than RM16,200

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DUBAI – A beggar who asked passing motorists to contribute to his Dh10 bus fare collected more than 19,000 Dirham (about RM16,200) by the time he was arrested.

The man, who would claim he needed the money to get to his work in Sharjah, is just one of the 103 people arrested for begging since the launch of Dubai Police’s annual clampdown on July 17.

The 103 include 14 women and a man who hid his prosthetic leg in an effort to elicit more sympathy and donations.

Police discovered that when he entered the country he was in possession of a prosthetic limb, but that this had disappeared by the time he took to the nation’s streets to beg. What the cases have in common, say police, is an intention to exploit people’s charitable intentions during the Holy Month.

Mohammed Al Muhairy, director of the tourism security department at Dubai Police, said that most people who begged in Dubai during Ramadan were professionals who flew in from their home countries cash in on people’s good will – knowing that doing so could be very profitable.

“This is fraud – not people in need – and we need to raise awareness on this practice among the public,” said Al Muhairy.

The colonel and his teams are visiting various Ramadan majlises across the emirate to educate the public and highlight police measures to combat such begging.

Sixty police patrols, including undercover officers, are involved in this year’s clampdown, while teams from the municipality and Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department are also taking part. Authorities have divided the emirate into three zones – green, yellow and red – according to how often each is visited by beggars.

Last year 657 people were arrested for begging, 169 of them during Ramadan. This year, 264 were arrested before the beginning of the Holy Month.