Salaried beggars in UAE? That person who melted your heart may be richer than you

2 women arrested with thousands of dirhams as police warn begging is a profession for most of the people caught seeking alms


Sahim Salim


Waad Barakat

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Published: Wed 6 Mar 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 6 Mar 2024, 9:54 PM

The next time your heart melts on seeing a seemingly poor person begging for alms, chances are he/she is richer than you. In separate instances, the Dubai Police arrested two women with Dh60,000 and Dh30,000 cash, respectively, that they made solely by begging.

One of the women used her child to gain sympathy and, in the process, make thousands of dirhams. Both women had come to the UAE on visit visas.

The Dubai Police said 99 per cent of beggars they arrested considered begging a ‘profession’. This came as the police launched its anti-begging campaign ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.

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‘Salaried’ beggars

The Sharjah Police had earlier told Khaleej Times about ‘salaried’ beggars — people who are brought into the country to beg and are offered a monthly wage.

Over the past four years, the Dubai Police have apprehended a total of 1,701 beggars. In 2023 alone, nearly 500 beggars were arrested, indicating the growing scale of the problem.

According to the police, many beggars are flown in to the UAE on visit visas specifically to beg on the streets. Last year, a family of five — two brothers, their wives and a child — were caught near a mosque in Dubai seeking alms.

In another instance, the police arrested a man with an artificial limb in which he concealed Dh300,000 that he made from begging. In Abu Dhabi, a woman found begging in front of a mosque was later apprehended as she walked to her 'luxury car' after collecting thousands of dirhams.

Stay safe online and offline

The police said beggars frequent mosques, markets and other crowded areas to seek alms during the holy month. Others knock on apartment and villa doors with 'fabricated' stories that tug at the heartstrings of residents. These are the ‘traditional’ forms of begging.

There is also a 'modern' way of begging, the police warned. Criminals post messages on social media platforms about tragedies that never happened. Others urge people to donate money to help the displaced and injured in countries experiencing wars and unrest in the region. “These messages often included bank account numbers and links to fake donation pages, aiming to deceive individuals and extract funds from them,” the police said.

Fines and penalties

Begging is a crime in the UAE that’s punishable with a Dh5,000 fine and three-month imprisonment. Those found operating a gang of beggars or recruiting people from outside the country to seek alms face a six-month jail term and a Dh100,000 fine. Raising funds without a permit is punishable with fines of up to Dh500,000.

Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activities and persons to the police. According to the UAE Government website, these are the numbers you can do this across Emirates:

Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activities and persons to the police. According to the UAE Government website, these are the numbers you can call across the Emirates:

  • Abu Dhabi: 999 or 8002626
  • Dubai: 901, 800243 or 8004888
  • Sharjah: 901, 06-5632222 or 06-5631111
  • Ras Al Khaimah: 07-2053372
  • Ajman: 06-7034310
  • Umm Al Quwain: 999
  • Fujairah: 09-2051100 or 09-2224411


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