Manama: A beggar with KD500,000 in his bank account has been arrested by security authorities in Kuwait.
The beggar, a non-Kuwaiti, was held near a mosque in the capital Kuwait City.
“Servicemen were patrolling the area when they saw a man standing near a mosque and begging for money, telling worshippers that he badly needed cash and that he had no home,” security sources told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai.
“He was immediately arrested as he was breaking the law and was taken to Al Ahmadi police station where an investigation revealed that he had a bank account in a local bank worth more than KD500,000,” the sources added.
The beggar was remanded in custody and will be referred to the financial crime directorate for legal action, the sources said.
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.
In April, Kuwait deported 22 beggars after they were arrested for harassing people.
The group comprised men and women from Arab and Asian countries and focused on harassing 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, the sources added.
“The authorities will continue to fight the phenomenon of begging and will use plainclothes officers to help in the arrest of beggars,” security sources said.
With begging turning into a lucrative activity for several foreigners in the Gulf, odd ways of securing money have emerged, mainly cross-dressing.
Police in Kuwait have uncovered men who resorted to wearing a woman’s black abaya — the traditional coverall worn by women in the Gulf — that covers the face 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 whistle-blower’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.
A spokesperson for the social affairs ministry in Saudi Arabia said that foreigners made up around 85 per cent of all the beggars while the others were Saudi citizens.
Most of the street beggars apprehended by the authorities in the capital Riyadh were of African origin.