Watch out for ‘professional’ beggars!

During the start of Ramadan, news came out asking residents to report beggars to the police. Begging is illegal here in the UAE but nevertheless, rampant especially in the holy month of Ramadan when people are consciously exerting effort to be extra generous.

The beggars have roamed the streets once, camouflaging as normal individuals but catching your attention with a meek voice as you pass by, “have mercy, madame” or “anything for dinner, madame”.

Last year, our apartment door bell rang and when we opened it, there was a lady in full black robe (abaya) carrying a child cheeks flushed red albeit from roaming around in this hot weather! She told her story that she was from Palestine and her husband recently died, thus asking for alms. I gave some amount, closed the door and thought of that child in her arms up to this very day. The beggars have switched to standing in the streets to knocking on doors to be more discreet.

Then this news blew all of us away: Ramadan beggar arrested with 30,000 dhs in pocket (US$8,000)!

The beggar collected that massive amount just for begging during the time of Ramadan which started 20 days ago! The people are really being extra generous! But begging poses a security risk to the public. According to the National:

Although no federal legislation addresses begging in the streets, police said the issue posed a security risk to the public. Executive orders have been issued earlier to combat this activity and we have discovered criminal gangs dedicated to panhandling in the country

Dubai Police is rewarding people for reporting Ramadan beggars. Members of the public are urged to contact police on a special free number, 800243.

Papa’s hit and run accident gets closure

I still memorize the case number by heart and after a year and a half, I still can’t forget my father’s accident here in Dubai. He was hit by a speeding SUV while crossing a service road where cars should not speed (but this is Dubai). The driver of the car just went on like he only hit an ant, never mind there were plenty of witnessing, never mind the sight of a human body being hurled and landed on the hard pavement.

I pass by the traffic prosecution office where my father’s case lies every day on my way to work and my conscience is bugging me. I needed to find closure despite losing hope the case is going to be picked up again by police after they asked me to fly my father here to testify in court and I answered that it is not possible. He was not fit to fly and knowing how it is here, his visa could expire before we are even called to court.

“2011?” The lady at the front desk asked me.

“Why you didn’t come before?”

I explained that I did and needed to come back again but didn’t because I was pregnant, had a complicated delivery, slow recovery and well, you get the picture. I had a baby, I was busy.

After tinkering the keyboard, she calmly told me, “The case is closed. Khalas (Arabic for “it’s over”).”

In state of anger and shock, I asked what action they have taken on the hit and run driver and she said 2,000 dirhams (US$540) police fine. That’s it. No jail time, no damages paid to us, just to the police. She told me, if I want to contest the decision, I could ask Dubai Court to open a civil case, get a lawyer, etc.

Lately in the news,

A man was sentenced to six months in jail for groping woman

A mere FIVE HUNDRED FORTY DOLLARS FINE FOR COMMITTING HIT AND RUN (with witnesses to testify, plate number taken and reported)?

So there goes our closure although it just doesn’t sound right and fair at all.