Residents have been warned to beware of organised begging gangs operating across the capital during Ramadan.
Drivers, homes and mosques are prime targets for the begging gangs, which has prompted Royal Oman Police to warn residents not to give them money.
“Beggars now, especially women, stop cars for dropping them and then during the journey they beg money,” Hamood al Mandhari, the Director of Social Development at the Ministry of Social Development, was quoted by local press as saying.
“Don’t stop your car for strangers and don’t open your house door for strangers. They knock doors and people allow them to enter their houses showing sympathy to such criminals.
“There are some who really financially suffer but that giving them money on the street is not the right way to help them.”
He added that the begging gangs employ “spotters” to help them avoid arrest.
“It is an organised crime. They carefully plan their act and someone is looking closely and stands ready for any emergency to come and pick them away.
“Such beggars have different ways to beg for money from the public and they work in a network, making it harder for us to arrest them while begging.”
Al Mandhari also urged motorists in Muscat to drive to the closest police station if they encountered beggers.
According to the Ministry of Social Development, people involved in begging in public or private places faced a jail term of between two months and one year, while they could also be fined between RO50 and RO100.
Expatriates found begging in public will be also be expelled from the country.
According to recent statistics, the number of beggars arrested in 2015 fell compared with 2014. Last year, 612 beggars were arrested, including 226 nationals, while 835 were arrested in 2014.