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Al Waqt newspaper shuts down for lack of funds

The announcement was printed on the front page of the paper on Monday

Manama: Al Waqt, a newspaper with a leftist-nationalist slant, printed its last edition on Monday after its general assembly on Sunday agreed to shut it down for the inability to secure enough funds to continue publishing.

The announcement was printed on the front page of the paper on Monday alongside an emotional thank you and farewell message to its readers and supporters.

"We are not the first or last newspaper to stop publishing. We tried not to be the newspaper of a party, a lobby, a government or a sect. We have endured an advertisement siege…The advertisement in Bahrain is too small for nine newspapers…it seems that nobody wants a patriotic, independent and professional newspaper to continue…Thank you and farewell," the editorial team wrote.

Financial problems have beset the newspaper since its foundation in 2006 by a group of 62 investors led by Ebrahim Bashmi, a columnist and a member of the Shura Council (upper chamber), who has served as the chairman of the editorial team.

The newspaper, despite popular praise for its coverage, has been struggling to make money in an increasingly difficult market and its situation has been compounded by the onslaught of the global financial crisis.

Its staff last year voiced anger after they were not paid their salaries on time. However, the issue was settled through compromises.

In a bid to save money, the paper took several drastic actions and dropped off several international columnists.

Talks about a possible purchase of the majority of the shares by a group of businessmen earlier this year did not materialize, plunging the paper into a deeper crisis.

Last month, its staff, in an unprecedented move in Bahrain's media history, went on strike after the management said that they did not have enough funds to pay them, causing the paper not to publish for one day.

Readers on Monday lamented the decision to stop publishing and urged the paper to at least keep its online edition.

Al Waqt (The Time), the fifth daily newspaper to be published in Bahrain's modern history, has defined itself as a non-partisan and non-governmental newspaper that is not run by businesses or ruled by alliances.

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