Muscat: Beggars, mostly women from Arab countries, are starting to seek money from residents in shopping malls and mosques as the Holy Month of Ramadan approaches.
Beggars use the Holy Month of Ramadan, which is starting on July 10, to take advantage of fasting Muslims by exploiting their faith.
Some of the women carry infants to arouse pity and collect more money. Others knock on doors, going street to street, taking in hundreds of rials during the Ramadan month.
"It is an organised crime. They carefully plan their act and their husbands are behind it. If you look closely, there is always a man who drops a woman off from a car at the entrance of a street and picks her up on the other side," Faisal Al Najjar, a resident at Bausher, told Times of Oman.
Sources from the government say that Arab women apply for tourist visas a few weeks before Ramadan and arrive in Oman in time to begin begging. But residents have also noticed that some Arab women are using young children to do the begging for them.
"They think that children arouse more emotion and pity if they beg, and you are likely to give the children more money than to their mothers.
They don't know that they are leaving a bad legacy for their children to follow when they become adults," Ahmed Abdulsattar, an Egyptian school teacher, said.
There are also reports that some beggars attempt to steal from houses when they turn up at the doorstep. They come in the morning when only housemaids are at home and, after distracting domestic workers, they enter the house and snatch whatever they can.
"This veiled woman asked me for water. I went to the kitchen to get it and I left the front door open. When I came back, she was not there.
She took the OMR45 that I left on the table opposite the door," Mellisa Fernandes, a Filipino housemaid, told Times of Oman. In the Sultanate, begging on the streets is unlawful.
Those caught begging face a jail term of two months to one year and a fine of OMR50 to OMR100.