x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Government will take legal action against sponsors of beggars

Legal action will be taken against the sponsors of visitors caught begging, the federal Department of Naturalisation and Residency said.

Legal action will be taken against the sponsors of visitors caught begging, the federal Department of Naturalisation and Residency said yesterday. "Previously, legal measures were taken against the beggar only, but from now on action will also be taken against the person who permitted him to enter the country and indulge in this practice," said Brig Gen Nasser al Minhali, acting director of the department.

Tourism agencies which issue visas for beggars will be closed and face legal questioning. The department "will not go easy on such practices", he said. A new system launched in late July introduced a range of new visa types. Visitors and immigrants from all but 33 exempt nations are required to apply for visas specific to their purposes for entering the country. Visa types include tourism, visitor, study, conference and exhibition, and medical treatment.

According to Brig Gen Minhali, 412,869 entry visas were issued from July 29 to Aug 31. The total includes 369,458 visas issued in Dubai, of which 70 per cent were for citizens of the 33 exempt countries, who can acquire visas on arrival. He said a number of visas had been issued for the new visa categories that were added to the system. Meanwhile, Daman, the national health insurance company, said it had issued 12,000 visitor plans since the system - which requires all visitors to have insurance - was introduced. The company offers the visitors plans for Dh40, Dh70 or Dh90 for stays of 40, 70 or 100 days.

Dental and optical treatments are not covered by the visitor plan. Treatments outside Daman's network are not covered either, with the exception of life-threatening cases that should be treated in emergency rooms. Brig Gen Minhali also announced a centre in Musaffah where people working in the private sector would be able to acquire work permits and residence visas. The centre is expected to open within two weeks.

Previously, individuals had to apply for work permits from the Ministry of Labour and at the Department of Naturalisation and Residency for residence visas. hdajani@thenational.ae