20210923 beggar
A beggar near a traffic light in Riyadh. Image Credit: Sabq

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has approved new strict regulations to counter begging, with tough penalties including a maximum jail term of one year and fine of SR100,000, local media reported.

According to the new Anti-Begging Law approved by the Council of Ministers, penalties will be imposed on any person involved in begging, managing beggars or helping an organized group of beggars.

Those involved in encouraging and helping anyone engaged in begging will be sentenced to a maximum jail term of six months or fine of no more than SR50,000 or both.

Under the law, non-Saudi beggars will be deported after serving the jail term and paying the fine. They will not be allowed to return to the Kingdom for work. However, non-Saudi beggars who are husbands or children of Saudi women will be exempted from deportation.

According to the law, a beggar will be punished if arrested more than once for the offence. The law stipulates the Ministry of Interior as the designated authority.

Article four of the law states that the Ministry of Interior, in coordination with the concerned agencies, should study the social, health, psychological and economic condition of Saudi beggars and offfer support to address issues.

In 2018, a total of 2,710 Saudi beggars were arrested, according to a report published by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. Around 79 per cent of these beggars, 2,140 in number, were women while men represented 21 per cent with a total number of 570.