Beggars in the UAE taking advantage of generosity during Ramadan, Eid

A common ploy by beggars is appearing at petrol station, asking for money to help them continue their journeys home.

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DUBAI // Scams, false claims and stories that do not bear out are causing concern among people who would otherwise be willing to do their zakat, or charity works, by helping beggars.

One such ploy is where beggars appear at petrol stations, asking for money to help them continue their journey home.

But if the Dh300,000 car was not enough of a mixed signal for Eric R, the car’s Saudi number plate added to his suspicions.

Eric, a Dubai resident, says he runs into beggars more often than not when he goes to the grocery store at the Enoc station on Umm Suqueim Road.

“At first they request up to Dh100 but when I say no, I’m not that gullible ... they say even Dh50 would be helpful,” he says.

He said: “They managed to buy themselves newer cars than my 2011 Ford Fiesta.”

It has happened to him two other times, once during Eid last year and another during Ramadan.

He remembers that both times the panhandlers were driving recent model Nissan Patrols and Toyota Land Cruisers with Saudi Arabian plates.

Eric, who is Lebanese, says the stories are familiar.

“The men, one with his family in the car, the other with two other men, came to Dubai for the holiday and became broke after arriving. Now they need gas money in order to go home.

“Both times I apologise and say I can’t help them because I bought my groceries with a card and I had no cash. One man thanked me nonetheless and drove off. The other just gave me a sour look and drove off with more alacrity.”

At this time of year zakat is encouraged and opportunity arises for unscrupulous men looking for a quick cash handout.

Callum King, of the UK, says he had a beggar approach him at a petrol station in Jumeirah Beach Residence claiming he needed money to go back to Oman.

“At first I refused and he kept on pestering me,” Mr King says. “Eventually he gave up and drove out of the petrol station.

“As he drove off, I noticed his car had a Dubai licence plate, which gave it away even more.”

Mr King says the man had his wife and children in the car, to make his pleas seem more genuine.

“It’s a great shame that all this is happening, as it becomes difficult to decipher if someone is genuinely homeless, sick or in actual need of assistance to help them home to their families,” he says.

Mr King has noticed cars along Al Khail Road and Hessa Street, the drivers of which are trying to flag down passers-by suggesting they are in need of assistance.

“I have spoken to a few people who have pulled over genuinely believing they may need some assistance, but every time it’s been a claim that they have run out of petrol and have no money to get some more,” he says.

Maj Gen Khalil Al Mansouri, head of CID at Dubai Police, says people are now making a profession out of begging by appearing to be in need or have a physical disability.

Police have urged the public to call 800 243 to report begging cases.