MUSCAT, MAY 29 – The begging combating team of the Ministry of Social Development caught 499 beggars during the first four months of 2018, 439 of them expatriates and 60 Omanis. Majority of the beggars were rounded up in Muscat (332), followed by Dhofar (77), Batinah (58), Buraimi (18), and Dhahirah (14). The number has almost doubled for the first quarter of the current year compared to the same period last year (263). In 2017, the total number of beggars arrested across the country stood at 1152, of which 927 were expatriates and 225 Omanis.
Director of the Social Development in Seeb and anti-begging team supervisor, Hamoud bin Mohammed al Mantheri, said that “begging in its general sense is that a person asks for charity due to his disability or using children as an excuse, or displays goods that cannot be a major source for income in public places or shops. “Begging has different forms, such as seasonal begging — which appears during religious events such as Ramadhan — and indirect begging when the beggar sells goods like medals and pens and insists you to buy them. There is also ‘accidental begging’, practised due to an economic circumstance and is less common,” he added.
Al Mantheri mentioned in a statement that low income, accessibility of visas for expats, disability, weakness of religious persuasion, greed, and sympathy of society, as well as family disintegration are all causes for begging. When Omanis are arrested, their cases are studied individually to detect reasons for begging and help is provided as per their social requirement. Article 297 of the new Penal Code stipulates that a penalty of not less than one month, not exceeding one year and a fine of not less than RO 50 and not more than RO 100 shall be imposed on either of those found begging at mosques, roads, public places or private shops.
Zainab Al Nassri