Emirate in UAE Bans Beggars During Ramadan

August 29, 2008 03:31 PM
by Anne Szustek
Ras Al-Khaimah, part of the United Arab Emirates, is curbing mendicancy on the grounds that beggars take advantage of people’s heightened piety during the Islamic holy month.

Mosques, Malls to Go Under Surveillance to Prevent Panhandling

Ras Al-Khaimah, an emirate in the northern region of the UAE, has already arrested 27 beggars since Jan. 1 this year, as part of the early stages of a campaign to root out panhandlers in the area, now finalized in time for the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, due to start this year on Sept. 1.

Ras Al-Khaimah Criminal Investigation Department Lt. Col. Salem Al-Zaabi told Dubai paper Gulf News that surveillance cameras are being installed near the entryways of mosques, shopping centers and roadways to track beggars’ movement throughout the emirate.

In the emirate of Dubai, authorities are enforcing regulations on cafes offering shisha, the traditional Middle Eastern tobacco water pipe. Tents and cafes must abide by ventilation standards. According to Dubai paper Khaleej Times, media outlets had reported that there was to be a full-on ban on shisha smoking during Ramadan 2008, but that isn’t the case. 

In addition to abstaining from food, drink, sex and smoking during daylight hours, observant Muslims try to avoid all that is deemed sinful, including music with explicit lyrics and unclean thoughts, instead focusing on prayer and altruism. The higher propensity for charity often brings out beggars, says Al-Zaabi.

Background: The United Arab Emirates, expats and Ramadan

The UAE is a federation of seven independent sheikdoms. In terms of diplomacy and defense, they function together as one unit, with its administrative capital in Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate in terms of area and in wealth. Dubai, the largest emirate in terms of population, is known as a regional financial and real estate investment center. Oil was first discovered in the UAE in 1958, and constitutes the lion’s share of the country’s enormous wealth.

Oil and finance have attracted millions of expatriates to the UAE—so much in fact, that there are some three foreigners to every Emirati residing in the country. Despite Islam being the state religion, the area is largely tolerant of expatriates’ cultural habits and religious traditions. During Ramadan, however, all are required by law to observe the dawn-to-dusk fast in public. Those caught smoking, eating or drinking during daylight hours may have the police called upon them without warning from passersby.

Related Topic: MTV Arabia not showing music videos during Ramadan 2008

MTV Arabia plans to suspend broadcasting music videos during Ramadan, running celebrity news shows and reality programming instead. “Though part of a global brand, MTV Arabia is conscious of regional sensitivities,” said channel manager Samr Al-Mazouqi. “We are keen to respond to the needs and desires of viewers in the Middle East, the vast majority of whom will be fasting, spending time with family, and focusing on their spiritual lives.”

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