Beggars lured to easy money in UAE, Saudi Arabia
SAUDI Arabia's Eastern Province and the Dubai emirate are now the top destinations for globe-trotting beggars, who according to Arab media reports could make almost US$80,000 (S$107,150) in a month begging in the region.
Of the two places, Dubai is easier to get into and offers longer stay, as it is an international business and tourism hub providing an assortment of three-month visas at a fee of less than US$500.
"Some of the beggars are issued with business or tourist visas," the United Arab Emirates' Khaleej Times quoted Faisal Al Badiawi, head of Dubai's markets section, as saying, following the arrest of 59 foreign beggars in the first three months of this year.
"We discovered that one beggar was making more than 270,000 dirham (S$98,450) a month," he added.
"But we believe more money was collected on Fridays, especially if they were standing in front of mosques," the official noted.
The Facebook page of Dubai's municipal government said the beggars told officials of how they begged in front of world-class hotels and mega-malls, and at mosques on Fridays, the Libya-based 218TV station reported.
One comment posted on the page quipped that these beggars who claimed to be "entrepreneurs" and "businessmen" in order to gain entry truly became one as they would leave as millionaires three months after.
Dubai police believe such beggars would keep coming as the chance of making a fortune outweighs the risk.
Dubai is cracking down on beggars in the run up to the Ramadan festival, which starts this year in early June.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, which abuts Dubai, 564 beggars were caught in the six months since October.
Colonel Ziad Araqiti, spokesman for the province, said 83 per cent of these beggars were foreigners, the Egypt-based Elfagr website reported.
They were arrested at the intersections of main roads, mosques and markets in the provincial capital of Dammam and other cities, added the spokesman.