Manama: Security authorities in Kuwait have arrested a Jordanian couple who posed as desperate Emiratis and asked for money from mall shoppers.
The husband and wife, both residents of the UAE, claimed they were Emirati nationals who needed money to fill up their car with petrol and go home.
The couple, who had a child with them, stood next to their car with its UAE licence plates and spoke in a perfect Emirati dialect to fool shoppers into supplying them with cash, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported.
The husband approached Kuwaiti nationals, asked for 50 Kuwaiti Dinars and promised to transfer the money back to them as soon as he reached home.
Several people, mistaking the beggar for a UAE national who had run into financial problems but would most certainly honour his pledge to return the money, reacted positively and gave him the cash he requested.
However, some shoppers became suspicious and alerted the police who monitored the man’s activities and decided that he was an imposter.
The couple were held and referred to the authorities for further investigations.
Kuwait, like fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — does not allow begging and has pledged zero-tolerance towards allowing people to beg for money, particularly during the month of Ramadan when people, both locals and foreigners, have a stronger tendency to donate money and to engage in acts of charity.
Foreign beggars are invariably deported for their illegal activities.
In April 2015, police sent home 22 beggars after they were arrested for harassing people.
The group comprised men and women from Arab and Asian countries and harassed shoppers and pedestrians by insisting on receiving money from them.
Investigations revealed that some of the beggars were staying illegally in Kuwait and violated the residency regulations.
With begging turning into a lucrative activity for several foreigners in the Gulf, odd ways of securing money have emerged, mainly cross-dressing.
Men resorted to wearing a woman’s black abaya — the traditional coverall worn by women in the Gulf — and to covering their faces to boost their chances of receiving money from unsuspecting people who tended to sympathise more with women seemingly in need.
In 2012, police in Kuwait City arrested an expatriate who disguised himself as a woman to beg for money.
The man who fooled people in the upscale Salmiya neighbourhood in Kuwait City was arrested after a woman who gave him money felt there was something wrong with the begging “woman”.
The whistleblower’s husband alerted the police, who rushed to the place and arrested the beggar who confessed to receiving up to 25 dinars (Dh324.80) a day.
In Saudi Arabia, a man begged for five months as a woman before his disguise was uncovered.
The man, wearing an abaya told police that he earned up to 200 riyals (Dh195.82) on a regular day and that his income increased on Fridays as a larger number of devout Muslims head to mosques.
According to the spokesperson for the social affairs ministry in Saudi Arabia, foreigners made up around 85 per cent of all the beggars.
Most of the street beggars apprehended by the authorities in the capital Riyadh were of African origin.