Feature

Begging as a savvy career choice

The week's news at a glance.

Saudi Arabia

P.K. Abdul Ghafour Arab News

Beggars in Saudi Arabia are a diverse lot, said P.K. Abdul Ghafour in Riyadh’s Arab News. We all know about the legions of maimed children, often Africans or other foreigners, whom gang leaders deploy outside mosques to beg alms. But according to a survey by the Department for Combating Beggary, those beggars are just the most visible. Up to one–third of the country’s beggars aren’t poor at all; they are simply scam artists. These people—again, mostly foreigners—use “modern methods for extracting money from the public.” They dress in decent clothes and accost the unwary with tragic tales. Men will sometimes ask for gas money, saying they’re stranded on a highway. Women will ask for taxi fare, giving some sob story about losing a brother or uncle in the crowd. Some of them take in vast sums. One man was caught with more than $10,000 on him. The passport of another listed his occupation as “businessman.” Islam tells believers to be charitable to the truly needy—but not to fakers. “The easiest way to end beggary is to stop paying beggars any money.”

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