Ramadan in UAE: Police warn residents against helping beggars; launch campaigns to curb the crime

The police are stepping up patrols across the UAE to crack down on beggars, before and during the holy month

by

Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 10:45 PM

The police authorities in the UAE caught a large number of beggars in various emirates between November and March 2022.

The police said that many individuals and groups have been found amassing large sums of money by begging. Officials urged residents not to give money to beggars and to make donations through registered organisations only.


Long before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the police have repeatedly reminded the public that begging is a crime punishable by law. Cops have also warned the community against engaging with beggars.

Across the UAE, the police are stepping up patrols to crack down on beggars, before and during the holy month of Ramadan.


Top police officials at various emirates have confirmed that most of the beggars have been recruited by organised gangs from outside the country. They deceive the community members, especially when the country is observing the holy month of Ramadan.

“Begging can lead to other crimes such as burglary and exploiting children, the elderly and people of determination to raise money illegally,” the police warned.

Last year, during Ramadan, the Dubai Police arrested 604 individuals, including 382 beggars and 222 street peddlers. The authority received 2,235 reports from residents related to begging, including 1,956 reports through the (901) call centre and 279 via the 'Police Eye' service.

Colonel Ali Salem Saeed Al Shamsi, Director of the Anti-Infiltration Department at the General Department of Criminal Investigation, said the police have launched its annual anti-begging campaign to curb beggary, raise awareness of its dangers, and guide community members to official and reliable channels for donation.

Under the slogan 'Begging is a Wrong Concept of Compassion', the campaign was launched in cooperation with partners, including the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, and the Dubai Municipality.

Reporting Channels

Col. Al Shamsi confirmed that the annual anti-beggary campaigns achieve positive results yearly due to the increased awareness in the community about the dangers of dealing with beggars.

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File photo

He urged the public to report beggars through official channels, including Dubai Police's call centre (901) and the 'Police Eye' service available on the Dubai Police smart App or via the e-crime platform to report e-begging.

He noted that Dubai Police work tirelessly to curb the crime, especially in areas frequented by beggars during Ramadan, such as mosques, markets, residential neighbourhoods, Ramadan tents, and parking lots.

Safe Ramadan

Brigadier-General Ibrahim Al Ajel, Deputy Director of the Operation Department at the Sharjah Police, said a campaign titled ‘Ramadan Aman’ has been launched to prevent begging and restrict the activities of street vendors. Patrols are monitoring beggar movements, especially in residential areas.

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Al Ajel said the police had found that organised gangs are behind the practices of beggary in the emirate. They were found to be bringing in beggars from countries in Asia, the Middle East, and other Arab nations.

Several beggars arrested by the Sharjah Police said they were brought into the UAE before the holy month of Ramadan. The gangs provided them with visas, air tickets and accommodation in return to 80 per cent of their daily earnings.

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File photo

He said last year, the Sharjah Police patrol caught a beggar with more than Dh44,000 in cash he made from begging and another had Dh12,000. “Sharjah Police arrested 1,409 beggars during Ramadan over the last two years,”

Campaign in Ajman

The Ajman Police have also launched a campaign to combat begging. Col Ahmed Saeed Al Nuaimi, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ajman Police, said several public-private partnership models have been adopted to weed out begging. A special team was formed to keep a tab on beggars and tighten supervision in public places.

Instead of giving alms, the public has been encouraged to donate to registered charities and non-profit organisations. Residents can also help the police eradicate illegal practices by reporting beggars.

GDRFA takes strict measures

Lieutenant-Colonel Abdullah Ateeq, from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, explained that they had taken strict measures and set guidelines and conditions for tourism companies to ensure compliance in curbing this negative phenomenon.

Charitable Societies

Abdullah Al Ali, from the Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, highlighted the importance of official and reliable channels for donation, especially during the holy month. He urged members of the public and philanthropists to donate through donation boxes and verified electronic channels such as smart applications, websites, and text messages.

Residents in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman have raised concerns after seeing beggars in residential, and commercial areas, and at mosques.

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The residents said beggars have transformed themselves into street vendors, claiming that they had been affected by wars in their countries or they fake stories to convince community members to sympathise with them.

Islam Al Saeed, a Dubai resident, has noticed how beggars have turned into street vendors to make easy cash. “They would usually gather near traffic lights in industrial and commercial areas, especially in the morning. They would go to the parking lots and approach drivers, asking for help as they sell pens, water bottles and Quranic publications,” he said.

Another resident, Zulfkhar Khan, said he spotted a beggar from his country and talked to him in Urdu to find out his problem. “He said his leg had been amputated and he can't work.”

A shopkeeper in Sharjah Clock Tower said many beggars enter his shop. “There is a woman who constantly asks for cash to buy milk for her baby.”

Savita K, a resident of Sharjah, said she feels very sad when she sees beggars using innocent children to tug at people.

Anti begging law

The UAE has strict laws against begging, which have been introduced and amended to preserve the image of the UAE, combat begging and organised begging, prevent funds being exploited in financing terrorism, and protect the interest of the donors of funds.

Applicable Laws

Begging:

The UAE recently issued Federal Decree Law No. 31 of 2021 (UAE Penal Code) which now sets out the penalties and punishments for begging and organised begging. The UAE Penal Code abrogated and repealed the previous law on begging, Federal Law No. 9 of 2018.

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What Does the Law Say?

Article 475

Any person who commits the crime of begging by imploring others to grant a pecuniary or an in-kind benefit, in any manner or way, shall be liable to a jail sentence for a period not exceeding three (3) months and a fine not less than Dh5,000.

Shall be considered an aggravating circumstance if the crime of begging is committed in the following cases:

1- If the beggar appears healthy or has an apparent source of living.

2- If the beggar fakes injuries or permanent disabilities or pretends to provide a service to a third party or uses any other way of deception and fraud, with the purpose of influencing others to draw their sympathy.

Article 476

Any person who manages a criminal organised begging which is committed by an organised group of two or more persons, shall be liable to a jail sentence for a period not less than six (6) months and a fine not less than Dh100,000.

The same penalty shall be imposed against any person who recruits persons into the country to work in criminal organized begging.

Article 477

Any person who participates in a criminal organised begging, shall be liable to a jail sentence for a period not exceeding three (3) months and a fine not less than Dh5,000 or either one of these two penalties. If the perpetrator of the criminal organised begging is the legal tutor, custodian, or guardian, or those entrusted with the upbringing or care for the beggar, or having direct authority over him, then such matter shall be an aggravating circumstance.

Reporting beggars

You can report beggars via:

Abu Dhabi by phone on 999 or 8002626 (800Aman), SMS on 2828 or email to aman@adpolice.gov.ae

Dubai on 901 or 800243 or 8004888

Sharjah on 901 or 06-5632222 or 06-5631111

Ras Al Khaimah on 07-2053372

Ajman on 06-7034310

Umm Al Quwain on 999

Fujairah on 09-2051100 or 09-2224411.


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