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Manama: A man who cross-dressed to beg for money is being investigated by the Saudi authorities.

The man was arrested at a major road intersection in the Dammam area in the Eastern Province of the kingdom, local Arabic daily Al Sharq reported on Monday. Dammam, Khobar and Dhahran are the major cities in the province.

Begging is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, but the authorities have regularly to deal with people, mainly women or men dressed as women, who ask for money in front of mosques.

Ramadan, the month of fasting and benevolent actions, is often used by beggars to increase their activities. The authorities said that they arrested 210 beggars in Dammam throughout the sacred month that ended 12 days ago. “The arrests included 107 women, 30 men and 73 children,” officials told the Saudi daily. “We have found out that the percentage of Saudi nationals were 27 per cent while foreigners made up the remaining 73 per cent,” they said.

Most of the arrests were made in front of mosques and at traffic signals and in major markets. Saudi nationals who are caught begging are transferred to dedicated social centres for follow up while foreigners are moved to the directorate of expatriates, usually to be deported.

According to a 2011 report, a cross-dresser confessed that he had begged for five months before his disguise was uncovered. The abaya-wearing man told the police that he earned up to 200 riyals (Dh195.79) on a regular day and that his income increased on Fridays, the day of special worship for Muslims.