Al Nahla (Arabic: The Bee) was a weekly political magazine which existed between 1870 and 1880 with one-year interruption. It was first published in Beirut and then in London. The magazine was one of the early examples of private journalism in Lebanon. It was also one of the earliest Arabic publications in London.[1]

Al Nahla
EditorLouis Sabunji
  • Political magazine
  • Catholic magazine
FounderLouis Sabunji
First issue11 May 1870
Final issue1 May 1880
Based in

History and profileEdit

Al Nahla was launched by Louis Sabunji as a weekly publication in Beirut in 1870 when he was working as a Catholic priest in the city.[2][3] The first issue appeared on 11 May 1870.[4] The cover page declared that the magazine contained articles about science, industry, history, language, local affairs, foreign affairs, humour and narrations.[4] Of them the scientific, historical and humour sections were edited by Sabunji.[4] Al Nahla employed illustrations, including those drawn by its editor Louis Sabunji.[3] The magazine enjoyed the financial support of various sponsors, including Khedive Ismail and Sultan of Zanzibar.[3][5] Al Nahla had clashes with another Beirut magazine Al Jinan and its editor Butrus Al Bustani in early 1871 when Sabunji attacked Al Bustani.[6] Due to these conflicts and its anti-Hamidian content, Al Nahla was subject to bans by the Ottoman governor of Syria.[3][4] In fact, these bans were the first censorship by the Ottoman authorities in the region.[6] From August 1871 the magazine was published by Sabunji's business partner Joseph Shalfun.[4]

In 1876 Sabunji had to leave Beirut as a result of his increased anti-Ottoman views published in Al Nahla and settled in London.[3] Next year he began to publish Al Nahla in London as a bilingual publication covering Arabic and English content.[2] George Percy Badger was instrumental in the restart of the magazine.[4] It continued its attacks over the Ottoman Sultan in London[1] denouncing him as "an usurper of the title of ... Caliph."[7] However, in London Al Nahla had another goal: to support those who were planning to open the East Africa markets for European trade.[4] The magazine was published regularly in London until 1 May 1880.[4][8] However, Sabunji revived it in 1883 and 1884 without any regular scheme.[8]

A complete collection of Al Nahla's issues is archived by the British Museum, London.[9]


  1. ^ a b Zachary Berman (February 2017). Owing and Owning: Zubayr Pasha, Slavery, and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Sudan (PhD thesis). The City University of New York. p. 81.
  2. ^ a b Rogier Visser (2014). Identities in early Arabic journalism: The case of Louis Ṣābūnjī (PhD thesis). University of Amsterdam. p. 5. hdl:11245/1.406149. ISBN 9789491164200.
  3. ^ a b c d e Stephen Sheehi (28 May 2015). "The Life and Times of Louis Saboungi. A Nomadological Study of Ottoman Arab Photography". Ibraaz. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h L. Zolondek (January 1978). "Sabunji in England 1876-91: His Role in Arabic Journalism". Middle Eastern Studies. 14 (1): 102–115. doi:10.1080/00263207808700368.
  5. ^ Doaa Adel Mahmoud Kandil (2016). "Abu Naddara: The Forerunner of Egyptian Satirical Press". Journal of Association of Arab Universities for Tourism and Hospitality. 13 (1): 24. doi:10.21608/JAAUTH.2016.49733.
  6. ^ a b Donald J. Cioeta (May 1979). "Ottoman Censorship in Lebanon and Syria, 1876-1908". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 10 (2): 170. doi:10.1017/S0020743800034759.
  7. ^ Albert Hourani (2013). Arabic Thought In The Liberal Age, 1798–1939 (22nd ed.). Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-521-27423-4.
  8. ^ a b Martin Kramer (2009). Arab awakening and Islamic revival: The politics of ideas in the Middle East (2nd ed.). New Brunswick, NJ; London: Transaction Publishers. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-4128-0767-8.
  9. ^ Azmi Özcan (January 1993). "The Press and Anglo-Ottoman Relations, 1876-1909". Middle Eastern Studies. 29 (1): 116. JSTOR 4283543.