Dubai Police officials during a media briefing about the anti-begging campaign on Friday Image Credit: Aghaddir Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai Police have arrested a beggar with around Dh30,000 in cash, officials said on Friday.

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The beggar, an Asian woman carrying around a child, was found with different foreign currencies estimated to be worth more than Dh30,000. She collected the amount in one month of begging near mosques and in residential areas.

She was arrested two weeks ago. The woman had entered the country on a visit visa and has been referred to Dubai Public Prosecution. The incident is the most prominent case of begging so far this year, police officials said on Friday during a media briefing.

During the press conference at the headquarters of Dubai Police Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai Police warned the public not to be fooled by beggars who deploy various tricks to exploit their sympathy.

In another incident, police caught beggars with Dh70,000 and Dh60,000 cash on them. Some 1,700 beggars have been arrested over the past four years in Ramadan. 

Unusual cases

Dubai Police have observed unusual methods of begging, such as a European woman who works as a model in her country. Wearing an expensive dress, she visited a mall in Dubai carrying a board with the words “I want money, I want a rich husband”.

Another woman was spotted carrying a board that read: “Need money to open a clinic.” The two women were subsequently informed by police that such behaviour is not allowed, and the necessary measures were taken against them.

The board used by the woman begging in a mall in Dubai
The board used by the woman Image Credit: Dubai Police

‘Easy money’

“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 Dr Saeed Abdullah Al Qamzi, Assistant Director of the General Department of Investigations for Criminal Operations Affairs, during the press conference at Dubai Police headquarters.

The event was also attended by Brigadier Ali Salem Al Shamsi, Director of the Suspects and Criminal Phenomena Department, and Brigadier Nabil Al Redha, Director of the Emergency Department at the General Department of Security, in addition to senior police officers and a number of partners, officers and journalists.

The anti-begging campaign runs from March 1 till April 13.

Misusing Ramadan’s spirit of giving

Brig Al Qamzi said begging is not a civilised practice. It usually increases during Ramadan as beggars try to exploit the charitable spirit of the holy month. 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. Many such cases have been discovered by police, including several instances of women begging with children to evoke more sympathy.

He said 99 per cent of beggars consider begging to be their profession, at the expense of other deserving people.

“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.”

Brig Al Qamzi said Dubai Police annually monitors new behaviours and methods used by beggars in fraud, such as using social media and new technologies to lure their victims, pointing out that beggars exploit feelings of compassion and creating generosity among the public to achieve illicit gains.

He added that the campaign aims to combat all forms of begging which may take place in gatherings of worshipers, councils and markets, or online begging, or fake requests for donations to supposedly build mosques abroad, help amputees and other examples.

Zone-wise tactics

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

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

Teams from Dubai Municipality, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai, Roads and Transport Authority, and Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department will help police crackdown on beggars.

Brigadier Ali Salem Saeed Al Shamsi, Director of the Anti-Infiltration Department at the General Department of Criminal Investigation, told Gulf News that the annual anti-begging campaigns achieve positive results 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 app or via the e-crime platform to report e-begging.

Beggars arrested in raid

Brig Al Shamsi said that the police has launched the campaign recently ahead of Ramdan and during the campaign they had received information about a group whose intention was to prepare for begging. Some of the individuals entered the country on a visit visa and others are residents. The forces verified the accuracy of the information and raided the place and arrested all the group members.

Brig Al Shamsi also revealed that 499 beggars were arrested during last year’s anti-begging campaign during Ramadan. He pointed out that the administration’s statistics on beggars arrested during the campaign to combat begging for the past four years amounted to 1,701 beggars, during Ramadan.

Arrests in past 4 years
Total number of beggars arrested in past 4 years:
2020: 803 (41 women, 762 men)
2021: 704 (383 women, 321 men)
2022: 1,441 (404 women, 947 men)
2023: 1,214 (611 women, 638 men)

Illegal street vendors arrested in past 4 years:
2020: 3,542 (80 women, 3462 men)
2021: 635 (44 women, 591 men)
2022: 356 (31 women, 325 men)
2023: 1,615 (64 women, 1551 men)

Major General Humaid from the GDRFA 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 visas.

“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.

A representative from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, highlighted the importance of official and reliable channels for donations, especially during Ramadan, and urged members of the public and philanthropists to donate through donation boxes and verified electronic channels such as verified and approved smart apps, websites, and text messages.

Law on beggging

According to Federal Law No. 9 of 2018 on Anti-begging, anyone caught begging in the UAE will be fined Dh5,000 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 Dh100,000.