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Cairo: Saudi police arrested 3,719 beggars in a high-profile crackdown on the illegal practice across the kingdom, local media reported.

The arrests were made in one week as security authorities are pursuing an anti-begging campaign.

Legal action was taken against the offenders while the money seized with them from pursuit of begging was handed over to competent agencies, the media added.

The Saudi General Directorate of Public Security has urged the public to report beggars to authorities by dialing No 911 in the regions of Mecca and Medina and No 999 in the rest of the kingdom’s areas.

Last week, the General Directorate of Public Security said police started arresting beggars and referring them to competent agen-cies for violating the country’s system. The directorate warned against the use of social media in begging.

Authorities have urged citizens and expatriates to use legal channels to ensure delivery of their donations to the needy.

Last year, Saudi Arabia launched the state-sponsored platform Ihsan (Charity) allowing would-be benefactors to make donations via smartphone apps and choose preferred categories of assistance.

Beggars usually take advantage of Ramadan and characteristic benevolence during it for the illegal practice.

According to Saudi law, begging is punishable by a maximum of one year in prison or fines of up to SR100,000 or both penalties.

Foreign offenders face deportation after serving the term in Sau-=di Arabia and are barred from re-entry.