The Dubai Police briefing on the crackdown against begging during Ramadan in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Police have arrested a beggar with Dh300,000 in cash, officials said on Thursday.

The beggar posing as amputee was found with Dh300,000 hidden in his fake artificial legs. He was begging near mosques and in residential areas.

The man, who entered the country on a visit visa, has been referred to Dubai Public Prosecution.

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On Thursday, Dubai Police warned the public not to be fooled by beggars who deploy various tricks to seek their sympathy.

In another incident, police caught three beggars with Dh70,000, Dh46,000 and Dh44,000 in cash on them. Police also received a call from an Asian woman who had entered the country on a one-month visit visa, saying Dh100,000 was stolen from her. Investigations revealed that the woman collected this amount from begging.

“Around 90 per cent of arrested beggars are visitors and they come during Ramadan for easy money as they know the UAE is a rich country and people here always want to help. We have a team of officers to crack down on beggars, said Brigadier General Saeed Suhail Al Ayali, Deputy Director of the General Department of Criminal and Investigations for Administration and Control Affairs, during a press conference in Dubai Police headquarters.

The campaign was launched under the slogan ‘Begging is a Wrong Concept of Compassion’.

Brig. Al Ayali, stressed that beggary is an anti-civilisational phenomenon infiltrating society and usually increases during the holy month of Ramadan.

He urged people not to be deceived by beggars as begging can lead to other crimes such as burglary and exploiting children, the elderly and people of determination to raise money illegally.

“Most beggars are fraudsters, they come during Ramadan on a visit visa and loiter around mosques. Don’t sympathise with them, instead give your help or money to charity organisations in the country,” the official said.

The public has also been warned against begging on social media. “People should be careful when they receive messages or posts on social networks regarding poor people who need help as most of it is not true or is just another scam.”

As part of an anti-begging campaign during Ramadan, the police have divided the city into different zones based on the concentration of beggars in an area.

“We have divided the city into zones, more patrols will be sent to hot zones,” he added.

Teams from Dubai Municipality, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai and Al Awqaf will help police in the crackdown against beggars.

Colonel Ali Salem Saeed Al Shamsi, Director of the Anti-Infiltration Department at the General Department of Criminal Investigation, said that the annual anti-beggary campaigns achieve positive results yearly due to the increased awareness in the community about the dangers of dealing with beggars.

He urged the public to report beggars through official channels, including Dubai Police’s call centre 901 and the ‘Police Eye’ service available on the Dubai Police smart App or via the E-crime platform to report e-begging.

604 beggars arrested during Ramadan 2022

Col. Al Shamsi revealed that 604 beggars were arrested during last year’s anti-begging campaign during Ramadan. Dubai Police received 2,235 reports by public members related to beggary, including 1956 reports through the (901) call centre and 279 via the ‘Police Eye’ service.

He noted that Dubai Police, in cooperation with partners, work tirelessly to address this negative phenomenon, especially in areas frequented by beggars during the holy month of Ramadan, such as mosques, markets, residential neighbourhoods, Ramadan tents, and parking lots.

Community policing

Bigadier Marwan Abdul Karim Julfar, director of the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Establishments, said the public is a crucial partner for the success of the annual anti-begging campaigns. “Therefore, we urge the public to refrain from encouraging beggars and give their donations to official charitable associations and institutions in the country,” he added.

Leutenant Colonel Abdullah Ateeq from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai explained that they had taken strict measures and set guidelines and conditions for tourism companies to ensure compliance in curbing this negative phenomenon. He warned tourist companies to be careful when they issue visas to individuals as many beggars come on visit visa.

“We always check with tourist companies to be sure about visit visas issued to people. Sometimes we close the company if they have violated the rules,” he said.

Abdullah Al Ali, from the Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, highlighted the importance of official and reliable channels for donation, especially during Ramadan and urged members of the public and philanthropists to donate through donation boxes and verified electronic channels such as smart applications, websites, and text messages.

UAE’s Federal Law on Anti-begging

According to Federal Law No. 9 of 2018 on Anti-begging, anyone caught begging in the UAE will be fined Dh 5,000 and imprisoned for a term up to three months. Those operating professional gangs of beggars or recruiting people from outside the country to work as beggars face a jail term of not less than six months and a minimum fine of Dh 100,000.