Kuwait is to deport 22 beggars after they were arrested for harassing people. The group comprised men and women from Arab and Asian countries and focused on harassing shoppers and pedestrians by insisting on receiving money from them, residency sources told a local daily.
Investigations revealed that some of the beggars were staying illegally in Kuwait and violated the residency regulations, the sources added.
“The authorities will continue to fight the phenomenon of begging and will use plainclothes officers to help in the arrest of beggars,” the sources said.
Kuwait, like fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – does not allow begging and has pledged zero-tolerance towards allowing people to beg for money, particularly during the month of Ramadan when people, both locals and foreigners, have a stronger tendency to donate money and to engage in acts of charity.
With begging turning into a lucrative activity for several foreigners in the Gulf, odd ways of securing money have emerged, mainly cross-dressing.
Police in Kuwait have uncovered men who resorted to wearing a woman’s black abaya — the traditional coverall worn by women in the Gulf — that covers the face to boost their chances of receiving money from unsuspecting people who tended to sympathise more with women seemingly in need.
In 2012, police in Kuwait City arrested an expatriate who disguised himself as a woman to beg for money.
The man who fooled people in the upscale Salmiya neighbourhood in Kuwait City was arrested after a woman who gave him money felt there was something wrong with the begging “woman”.
Her husband alerted the police who rushed to the place and arrested the beggar who confessed to receiving up to 25 dinars a day.
In Saudi Arabia, a man begged for five months as a woman before his disguise was uncovered.
The man, wearing an abaya told police that he earned up to 200 riyals on a regular day and that his income increased on Fridays as a larger number of devout Muslims head to mosques. Saudi Arabia last June said that most of the street beggars apprehended by the authorities in the capital Riyadh were of African origin.
A spokesperson for the social affairs ministry said that foreigners made up around 85 per cent of all the beggars while the others were Saudi citizens.