Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a wonderfully rich country in the world. The state is also a welfare state that looks forward for betterment of the citizens. God knows the reason but along with all these positive signs a lot of beggars is seen at the entrances and exits of supermarkets, at grocery stores and at the intersections of streets. `Saudi society is an Islamic society and the state authorities make arrangements to help the citizens to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Islam strongly condemns begging as it is disgraceful for the humans and on the other hand Islam encourages the wealthy people to help those who are short of fiscal resources.
It may be the urge to help the poor people because of which many foreigners are accustomed to begging as a highly profitable business. It is a fact that begging is a well arranged and engineered job. Many groups, who are organized with foreign help, bring young children from poor countries to Saudi Arabia and then use them to beg here. The heads of such gangs set a portion of the earning that is given to the child who is used for begging. Some locals are also involved in it, a recent report issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs shows that almost 3,500 beggars were arrested. Most of these arrested people were women who were widows, divorced or physically disabled. It is not surprising as this section of society is most helpless. We hope that state authorities will put more efforts to channelize the private donations like Zakat and Sadaqa and more opportunities will be provided to these needy people in order to retain them from begging and their self-esteem and honor will be saved.
Begging because of need is no doubt a problem but the more serious issue is that class of beggars who are doing it in a more professional way. They don’t roam in sun, don’t stand at traffic signals or at the malls, they don’t sit on the roadside pavements. Beggars of this class drive expensive cars and roam with their families and hunt the prey. It seems that their target is foreigner visitors because this class of beggars tries to speak English. I personally meet a few representatives of this class. One of them came across when I was at the parking space of Jarir Books Store at Khobar. He slowed down his US model vehicle and showed the intention to talk to me. Seeing his vehicle and his son sitting with him I thought he is going to ask me about some directions of his desired place. When he talked to me he proved me wrong as he was not asking for any directions rather he asked for money. He told me that he is coming back from Bahrain and is on the way to Qatif, he has lost his money on the way and now he is in need of some money to get the fuel and to feed his son.
The other encounter was at another super mall at Dammam. He was a Saudi young fellow having a religious, mutawwa-like appearance. He approached my car and he was in a big SUV vehicle, children and a few women having abaya accompanied him. Soon after casual pleasantries he said that he was coming back from the Holy City of Makkah, his vehicle broke down in the way and he had to spend all the money he had with him to pay for repair costs. While lifting his hands towards heavens and praying for me he asked that he needs money to take his family back to home. I gave him some money and headed towards my car, hearing his voice behind me reciting supplications. This situation of beggary brings a bad name to the country. State authorities are striving hard for eliminating this curse. A series of programs are announced for welfare of the citizens. These welfare programs include a scheme of loan for purposes of housing to the deserving applicants and unemployment insurance for unemployed people. Now the society as a whole shall play its role to eliminate this curse from country.
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