Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star closes

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People read newspaper headlines announcing Saudi's decision at a kiosk in Beirut

BEIRUT – The English-language Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star has told its staff they will all be laid off, joining a list of Lebanese media outlets that have been forced to close or scale back due to financial pressures.

In a message to staff, The Daily Star management said the decision to lay them off had been taken “with a heavy heart”. It said arrangements were being finalised for compensation, and wished them luck “during these difficult times”.

Lebanon is in the throes of a depression described by the World Bank as one of the sharpest of modern times.

Founded in 1952 by Lebanese journalist Kamel Mrowa, The Daily Star is currently owned by the family of Sunni Muslim politician and former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, according to Reporters Without Borders’ Media Ownership Monitor.

Hariri-owned media outlets began shedding jobs and closing down about five years ago, reflecting financial difficulties caused by the demise of the family’s Saudi construction firm, Saudi Oger.

The Daily Star, which stopped updating its website on Oct. 13, has ceased publication on several occasions in the past including for periods of the 1975-90 civil war.

It is the latest title to disappear in a country whose news media, while highly politicised, has traditionally operated more openly than in many other Arab states.

In 2016, financial problems forced As-Safir newspaper to close.

(Reporting by Timour Azhari; Writing by Tom Perry, Editing by Angus MacSwan)