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Pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat closes office in birthplace Beirut

Loss of popular Saudi-owned paper the latest blow to the struggling press in Lebanon
A Saudi man looks at pictures in the al-Hayat paper on 4 October 2005. (AFP)

Seven decades after it was founded in Beirut, the prestigious pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat closed its bureau in the Lebanese capital on Saturday. 

The Saudi-owned newspaper cited "financial reasons" for the closure of all of its foreign offices, as its headquarters is transferred to Dubai. 

Its printing presses in Beirut also stopped earlier this month, several sources said, leaving the international edition only available online until further notice.

It could soon be printed in the Gulf only for readers in that region, the sources said.

The Beirut bureau employed around 100 people, around half of them journalists writing for the international edition and a variety magazine.

It is unclear what will happen to these employees.

Lebanese journalist Kamel Mrowa founded the newspaper in 1946 before he was assassinated two decades later.

The newspaper closed its doors in Lebanon for the first time in 1976, a year after Lebanon's 15-year civil war broke out.

It reopened in London in 1988, and was bought up two years later by Saudi Prince Khaled bin Sultan.

Traditionally liberal, al-Hayat has published opinion pieces by some of the Arab world's greatest intellectuals.

The press in Lebanon has been in crisis for several years, both as it struggles to adapt to the digital era and faces economic difficulties.

In late 2016, Lebanese newspaper As-Safir shuttered 42 years after it published its first edition, with the founder saying they had run out of funds.

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