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Al Jazeera media network to cut 500 jobs worldwide

The decision - said to be part of a 'workforce optimisation initiative' - comes months after Al-Jazeera America closed its doors
Al-Jazeera America was shut down in January after struggling to make an impact on the crowded US cable market (AFP)

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera media network said on Sunday it planned to cut around 500 jobs, with the majority expected to go at its Doha headquarters.

In a statement, Al Jazeera's acting director general Mostefa Souag said the cuts were part of the network's “workforce optimisation initiative” and were “consistent with those being made across the media industry worldwide”.

“Our decision ... was difficult to make nonetheless,” he said.

In January Al Jazeera, which runs Arabic and English language television news channels as well as web operations out of Doha, announced that it was shutting down its Al Jazeera America cable television channel in the US less than three years after it launched.

The network as a whole is funded by the Qatari royal family, and as such it does not have to rely on traditional sources of funding for media companies.

However, tumbling global oil prices have put a damper on the Qatari economy, with the government taking the unpopular step in January of raising oil prices to staunch a growing deficit.

The network was launched in 1996 as an Arabic-language news outlet. It has since ballooned into a global media brand with over 70 national offices worldwide.