Dubai: Authorities are constantly warning residents about encouraging beggars – particularly during Ramadan when they take advantage of residents’ goodwill.
But have you wondered where all the begging takes place?
While beggars stay clear of areas in new Dubai, a senior official at Dubai Municipality says that they tend to visit the old, traditional souqs of Deira and Bur Dubai, as they are more likely to find long-term residents with sympathy.
The most common place to find people asking for charity are in Naif and Al Ras, between the corridors of shops and apartment buildings.
“Many beggars go to Souq Naif during Ramadan, and since it is one of the older areas, the elderly people living in the neighbourhood and the traders still hold traditional values and give out generous amounts of Zakat,” said Faisal Juma’a Al Badawi, head of markets section.
Zakat, or alms giving, is a certain amount of money given by rich Muslims to poor Muslims, and should be equivalent to 2.5 per cent of one’s wealth. It is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Al Badawi explained that on average, while beggars usually receive between Dh50 and Dh100 in zakat, there have been cases when they received over Dh1,000.
“The residents of that neighbourhood do not check whether the beggars' claims are genuine or not. There was one incident when an elderly man had about 20 to 50 beggars around him, all asking for the maximum amount of zakat,” he said.
To crackdown on this type of illegal practice, authorities carry out regular campaigns in cooperation between Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai.
In annual campaigns such as these, it is common to find that the majority of beggars entered the country legally with a three-month visa, in order to collect as much money as they could during their time in Dubai.
In 2015, a total of 383 beggars were arrested by the municipality, including 79 during June, “and like this year, the month coincides with Ramadan,” said Al Badawi. He pointed out that these statistics represent a decline of 31 per cent from 2014, in where 549 beggars were rounded up by authorities.