Are liberal visa rules aiding begging?

Muscat, March 13 – The ease of getting family visas, tourist visas, alcoholism, disputes within families and lack of religious awareness are seen as key factors behind the increasing number of begging in Muscat, said a top official from the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) who made a presentation at the Muscat Municipal Council recently.
Oman, the sister publication of the Observer, quoted Mahmoud bin Mohammed al Mundhari, supervisor, MoSD, anti-begging team, as saying, “The challenges and difficulties faced by the team are mainly due to lack of awareness about the negative effects of the begging-related activities in the community.”
It was revealed the Muscat and Dhofar governorates topped the list of begging-related cases in 2017. “People and the groups involved in begging take advantage of the liberal visa rules for tourist, short-term visits, residence and employment,” the official said.
It was revealed that most begging-related cases are reported during the holy month of Ramadhan.
The Municipal Council members suggested that the anti-begging monitoring team be strengthened, especially in the areas surrounding markets and residential neighbourhoods.
The ministry said it is working on campaigns to control such activities and the need for awareness in society about the negative effects of begging.
“Begging is more rampant in many countries in the subcontinent, but in Oman it is happening on a small scale. I still welcome the initiatives by the authorities,” said Rajen Naik, an expatriate from Mumbai, India
“Recently, an expatriate (supposedly) family of an Asian nationality stopped their car near me at a supermarket in Muscat and asked for help as they had run out of money. They claimed to be travelling all the way from Salalah, but it was hard to believe what they said. The couple was travelling with an infant,” said Haitham, an Omani student.
As per law, the official said the penalties include imprisonment for a period not less than one month and not more than one year and a fine of not less than RO 50 and not more than RO 100 for begging in mosques, streets, public or private premises and shops.
The court may confiscate the money. If a convicted person continues to beg, he shall be imprisoned for a period of not less than six months and not more than two years. If a foreigner is involved in begging, he will be deported.
Law stipulates that he shall be imprisoned for a period not less than three months and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than RO 50 and not more than RO 100, or either of the two penalties.
The penalty will be doubled if the defendant is a guardian of a juvenile.