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Al Arabiya fires dozens in restructuring move

Sources tell Gulf News media reports have exaggerated the reasons behind the lay-offs

Dubai: The Saudi-owned pan-Arab Al Arabiya has fired dozens of employees in a restructuring move.

Saudi Akhbaar24 broke the story claiming fifty employees had been let go, among them some well-known and long-serving staffers.

A trusted source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the news to Gulf News but said most of the information and names mentioned in some media reports were not accurate.

“No single leading anchor, presenter, editor or manager was included in the dismissals,” the source said.

“Those dismissed were given generous severance packages and left on good terms,” the source added.

‘Big lie’

Akhbaar24 said among those let go were Lebanese presenter Gisele Habib, veteran journalist Nasser Al Sarami, who started working for the MBC in the early 1990s before being transferred to Al Arabiya, Ghalib Darwish, who runs the Al Arabiya website’s economy section, and famous presenter Nicole Tannouri have been named on the list.

“Some of them had already reached retirement age while others positions have become obsolete,” the trusted source said. Another media source who declined to be named confirmed to Gulf News the reports but said they were being “exaggerated”.

“The number are less, and some of the names mentioned are not correct,” the source said without specifying the number of employees whose services were terminated.

The source also denied reports that the employees were fired because they were close to former director of Al Arabiya, Abdul Rahman Al Rashid.

“This is a big lie,” said the source.

Back in March, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcaster said it was showing the door to about 500 employees as the financial pinch from the oil price slump weighed on regional Arab producers.

Ten leading daily newspapers published in Lebanon in three languages (Arabic, English and French), are also facing serious financial challenges

Other companies facing such cuts include the Guardian Media Group, which is seeking to lay off a similar proportion of its workforce, 250 people.

The Independent, a British daily, published its last ever print edition on Saturday, while in Australia the publisher Fairfax is planning to axe 120 journalists across the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Australian Financial Review.

The job losses at Al Jazeera are so far less severe than many staff feared when rumours first circulated in late 2015.

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