Begging might not be a socially acceptable profession, but it is profitable nonetheless.
Considering the fact that panhandlers don’t have to rent out a space to run their business or invest any sort of money into their venture, the once dishonorable occupation has turned into a rather lucrative industry in the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai authorities reportedly seized 59 panhandlers in first three months of 2016 as part of a campaign recently carried out by the Dubai Municipality in cooperation with the emirate's police.
Among those detained, officials discovered one panhandler who made more than AED 270,000 ($73,500) a month, which means he was earning an average of almost AED 9,000 ($2,450) per day. Interestingly, this is much, much more than what a physician or a lawyer makes in the United States.
The authorities believe the panhandlers collect more money on Fridays, when they stand in front of mosques.
“Some of the beggars had passports issued with business or tourist visas,” said Faisal Al Badiawi, head of markets section at the Dubai Municipality. “During the campaign, we found that the majority of beggars had entered the country legally with a three-month visa, in order to collect as much money as they could during their time here.”
The recent drive against panhandlers is part of a yearlong campaign that aims to combat begging on the streets of Dubai, which intensifies during the Muslim’s holy month of Ramadan. Other cities are also running similar operations.
“Street begging occurs everywhere and, in Sharjah, we take the matter seriously as it ruins the reputation of the country and also affects the security,” a Sharjah police official told Gulf News. “The presence of beggars in mosques and shopping malls, or any other public area, is not a pleasant image for the country.”