The Art of Begging

Muslim Matters

The Art of Begging

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

When it comes to making money, in America at least, no one knows the craft better than financial maverick and real estate mogul Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has proven time and time again that the business of making money is an art not for the faint-hearted or poorly bankrolled. Some of the secrets of his success can be found in his best-selling books, like “The Art of the Deal”.

Businessmen in the Middle East region possess a similar financial prowess. And with a steady flow of “black gold” flowing freely from the depths of the earth, the sky is quite often the limit for wealthy businessmen looking to make their next acquisition. Contrastingly, the majority of people in the Middle East fall into a pretty comfortable middle class with a substantial number of people falling below the poverty line. It’s unfortunate that, globally, more and more families are struggling to navigate murky financial waters.

While some people beg because they feel they have no other options, less scrupulous people turn begging into a con game, even an organized one.

Recently, a new class has emerged in the Middle East that is changing the game just a little bit and preying on the kindness of strangers. Just as a leech latches onto a warm-blooded host for sustenance, the “begging class” tries to attach to anyone with a wallet. Beggars are not a new phenomenon in the wealthy Middle East region. Most beggars go door-to-door asking for a cash handout from strangers. However, over the past couple of years, begging has become a sustainable business model that droves of shady businessmen are implementing. Basically, an “employer” hires people from poor countries and teaches them how to beg. The beggars spend their days, and often nights, begging outside of expensive boutiques and high-end shopping malls. Some even carry health documents legitimizing a terminal illness while others fake an injury or handicap to guarantee a handout.

However, not all beggars are part of a grandiose scheme. Several go into business for themselves as authorities in Kuwait learned recently. An Egyptian national was arrested this past week with over $4800 in his pocket that he collected as a result of begging for two days. Upon questioning, the beggar revealed that he entered Kuwait on a visit visa and his only reason for visiting was to beg. Had authorities not caught onto his scheme, he could have earned thousands of dollars simply by begging for it.

Kuwait is not the only country in the region grappling with an increasing number of beggars invading its borders. Wealthy Arab neighbors, like the United Arab Emirates and Oman, are also trying to rein beggars in and punish them to the full extent of the law. However, as long as there are people willing to open their wallets for the sake of charity, beggars will continue to pilfer whatever they can get.


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