Muscat: As many as 1,152 beggars were arrested in Oman in 2017, in 1,200 operations conducted by the anti-beggary team of the Ministry of Social Development.
The majority of the beggars were arrested in Muscat as well as in South and North Batinah governorates.
Out of this, 225 beggars were Omanis (152 males, 73 females) and 927 expatriates (569 males, 331 females), according to the Ministry.
Most were arrested during Ramadan. A ministry official told Gulf News the beggars took advantage of Ramadan, when people are more likely to donate to charity.
The official added beggars usually target places where crowds tend to gather. “They go to mosques, public markets, commercial complexes and residential neighbourhoods,” he said.
The official called on everyone to cooperate to tackle the phenomenon. Anyone found begging in public or in private places can be punished with imprisonment of not less than one month and not exceeding one year, and a fine of not less than 50 riyals (Dh477) and not more than 100, as per Omani Law.
If the beggar is not Omani, he/she will also be expelled from the country. If an Omani beggar repeats the crime, he/she will be sentenced to no less than six months and no more than two years.
Also, anyone using children or others to help beg will receive a jail sentence of no less than three months and no more than three years, and be slapped with a fine of no less than 50 riyals and no more than 100 riyals.
The number of beggars arrested in 2016 was 835, compared to 612 in 2015.