A picture shows the last print of Lebanon's Al Mustaqbal newspaper at the entrance of a bookstore in the coastal city of Tripoli, Image Credit: AFP

Beirut: Lebanese newspaper Al Mustaqbal issued its last print version after 20 years on Thursday, it said, the latest victim of the country’s media crisis.

Established by late billionaire premier Rafik Hariri, Al Mustaqbal is affiliated to his son Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri’s Future Current party.

“Al Mustaqbal folds up its last pages today,” said an editorial on the front page of the newspaper, whose name means “Future” in Arabic.

“On February 14, 2019, it relaunches digitally.”

For two decades, Al Mustaqbal recorded key events of the multi-confessional country’s history, including the 2005 assassination of its founder in a bombing.

In the years after the Sunni Muslim politician’s killing, the newspaper became a platform for the Future Current party launched in 2007, as it faced rivals including the Shiite movement Hezbollah.

On Thursday, Al Mustaqbal editor-in-chief Hani Hammoud wrote that his newspaper was struggling to adapt to the digital era.

“In 20 years, a generation of readers has turned into consumers who feel that 120 characters... is enough for them to know,” he wrote.

“The daily battle of editors at Al Mustaqbal... has become to find a headline that doesn’t make the reader feel like they already saw it the previous night on their smartphone.”

The newspaper suffered a financial crisis in 2015, prompting the dismissal of employees and a delay in payment of salaries, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says.

Al Mustaqbal is only the latest in a string of Lebanese newspapers to call it quits.

In September, political daily Al Anwar disappeared from print after nearly 60 years due to “financial losses”.

In June, prestigious pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat closed its Lebanon offices, where it was first founded in 1946 before later becoming Saudi owned.

Its printing presses in Beirut stopped the same month, leaving its international version only available online.

In late 2016, Lebanese newspaper Al Safir closed 42 years after publishing its first edition, with the founder saying it had run out of funds.

Lebanon has weathered a series of political crises since civil war broke out in neighbouring Syria in 2011, and the prime minister has for eight months failed to get all political parties to agree on a new cabinet.