Motorists in GCC-registered luxury cars have reportedly been “begging for petrol money” from surprised pedestrians in Dubai.
A number of residents confirmed they had recently been approached by motorists asking for cash to cover their trip back home. The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) is a regional bloc of six countries: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
At least four residents said they were solicited on the major road, lined with skyscrapers and outlets of international brands.
Those asking for funds were spotted in top-end cars such as a Bentley, Chrysler 300 and Ford Explorer.
Residents said the motorists had a similar excuse — that they had blown their budget for a short stay in Dubai and needed petrol money to manage the trip home.
“I was rather surprised to see a well-dressed man in a green Bentley ask me for petrol money so he could make it back to Saudi Arabia,” said Rahman, a valet service worker for a hotel on the road.
“I’ve seen him twice, asking others too. My colleague was also approached by a driver of a Saudi-registered luxury car for the same reason.”
An Indian resident said she had a similar experience last week.
“We had just parked next to a Ford Explorer when the driver rolled down his window and said he needed some money for petrol to travel back to Saudi Arabia,” said Anandita Mankodi, 27.
“It has happened to me before in Oman, I paid the motorist then. But I said a polite ‘no’ this time.”
Another resident, a hotel worker on Shaikh Zayed Road, said he gave Dh70 (about N3000) to a driver in “a really nice car.”
“I don’t know what make and model it was but it was really nice and low to the ground. I knew he could be lying, but I gave him the money anyway,” the worker said.
Such encounters are not unheard of in Dubai but residents said the incidents have recently increased on Shaikh Zayed Road.
A senior Dubai Police official urged residents to report such cases as the practice is considered illegal begging.
“If people are in genuine need there are proper channels for help. Asking people on the street for money is begging and it doesn’t matter if he or she is driving a luxury car or walking around,” Colonel Ali Ahmad Ganem, director of Bur Dubai Police Station, told Gulf News.
“This kind of activity usually increases in the build-up to Ramadan when professional beggars try to take advantage of residents’ generosity.”
He added that Dubai Police will shortly launch a “Fight Begging” campaign to coincide with Ramadan.
“We urge the public to help us counter this phenomenon of begging. It is illegal and those found guilty will be deported and banned from re-entering the UAE,” said Colonel Ganem.
“Some people come to the UAE simply to beg, especially close to Ramadan. It is not acceptable behaviour and I urge residents to report such cases.” [Gulf]