The exhibition was held at Hassan Kamel Al Sabbah High School in Nabatieh, in the presence of MPs Hani Kobeissi and Yassin Jaber, as well as Mr. Ali Kanso, representing the MP Mohammad Raad; head of Loyalty to the Resistance Parliament bloc, the Regie’s General Manager Mr. Nassif Seklaoui, the South planning executive in Amal Movement Bassem Lama’a, the member of the Progressive Socialist Party’s command in South Sarhan Sarhan, the South political executive in Baath Arab Socialist Party Fadlallah Kanso, the head of Shaqif municipalities union Dr. Mohammad Jamil Jaber, the chief of Nabatieh gendarmerie brigade Colonel Toufik Nasrallah, the chief of tobacco farmers syndicate in South Hassan Fakif, the principal of Hassan Kamel Al Sabbah High School Abbas Shmeisani, and several notables, in addition to a crowd of farmers.
The ceremony was commenced by the Lebanese anthem followed by the projection of a short documentary about the Regie’s activities. The announcer of the ceremony, Mrs. Rana Kamaleddine, then spoke to welcome on behalf of the Regie, the “charismatic, benevolent, and energetic Mrs. Randa Berri”. Coming within the Regie’s sustainable development plan, she pointed that the exhibition, which was organized by the Regie for its 80th anniversary and launched last November in Hadath headquarter, aims to express the tire of 25,000 farmers that make their living from tobacco farming. “The second version of the competition will be launched next July”, she added, hoping for a “wider participation from photographers, especially from South, in order to tell the story of the plant with which they grew and hardly worked”.
Later, Mr. Seklaoui spoke: “when photography lovers and art supporters meet, the picture becomes prettier and the gathering more pleasant. And in the presence and under the patronage of Mrs. Randa Berri culture and class are added.” He addressed to Mrs. Berri: “we all know that humanitarian, cultural, and art interests are your biggest concern, thus the joint interests with the Regie; we meet over the love of our nation and South, over supporting art and culture and serving the society, among other.”
“For the first time, such event is organized in our beloved Nabatieh that resists through art and culture”. “A picture is more expressive than words; and no matter how much we speak we wouldn’t express as much as the enjoyable pictures of young participants.”
He stressed: “the Regie was very proud to launch the first version of the competition”. “Commonly, the Regie comes out with purposeful initiatives; it was the first to launch a sustainable development plan, announced from President Berri’s residence and aiming to develop different social classes”. “Not only it backs local communities and thousands of households, the Regie had always supported talents, art, and intellect”. In fact, “it sheds the light on and support creativity among youth without saving any effort to support the economy, the national reserve, and the society.” “It is not surprising for the Regie to reward prominent individuals, as it was rewarded the ISO certification, being the first public facility to obtain it”.
Seklaoui said that “many juvenile from all over the country participated in the competition, however the majority was from South; the region that embraced tobacco plant and resisted through it until this plant became part of its tradition and everyday life. Through the eyes of those juvenile we saw the brightest side of tobacco farming, the stages of production, and the excellence of manufacturing”. “Through their eyes we witnessed and felt the pride of our traditions, production, harvest, and distinction in agriculture, industry, and trade. Through their eyes, as well, we saw the true Lebanese; the worker and farmer, the soil watered with sweat, we saw hard working and giving hands”, he added. “We witnessed the fertile Lebanese soil that gives unconditionally. Most importantly, we witnessed a bright future of Lebanon, as well as its youth, agriculture, talents, and production.”
Seklaoui concluded: “from the heart of Nabatieh, we see the picture of Lebanon that represents civilization, culture, art, and life. It is that picture that the Regie aims to bring to light every time.”
Then, Mrs. Randa Assi Berri took the stage, and firstly she passed the appreciation of President Berri to tobacco farmers and the Regie for their efforts in order to develop tobacco sector, lauding the Regie’s administration for its constant efforts to transform the sector from a monopoly department into a public interest department”, a symbol of sustainable development, and an example for other “productive sectors that reflects the nation’s need without being a burden over its shoulder.”
Mrs. Berri said: “we are in the presence of pictures that reflect the core of this sector on national level, starting with the family and its unity, ending with the picture with which all sectarian considerations vanish. The picture of hardworking and love is the same in Rmeish, Alma Shaeb, Adshit, Ainata, Kbartebnit. The same applies to the plains of Akkar, Hermel, and Bekaa. Further, we are in the presence of partnership, and reciprocal respect between the farmers, syndicates, and public sector represented by the Regie.”
“These pictures require us along with workers in public sector and civil society to apply these achievements over other productive, developmental, and social sectors in Lebanon.
In her speech, Mrs. Berri touched the subject of women quota in the election law: “if we were serious to transform Lebanon into a nation of civilization, capable of withstanding the challenges of the future, we must fully understand the importance of woman’s role on economic, political, and development levels.”
“Hence, we shall not forget the example of women working in tobacco sector in all its stages. I opt to say that there is no domain in which women has sacrificed as much as our mothers, sisters, and daughters have done in tobacco sector. Without their efforts tobacco wouldn’t have achieved its current definitive position in our national economy.”
She added: “this fact shall convince policymakers in Lebanon to give place to women’s involvement in different aspects of life. The first step shall be on the political level, where the necessity of a women quota in the expected election law, regardless its nature. It is unacceptable for the woman to stay in the shade without participating in setting our future. President Berri, Amal Movement, and the Liberation bloc are serious in this concern and are ready to cooperate with different parties and political forces in order to adopt women quota.”
Mrs. Berri concluded: “back to tobacco; that was as still an equivalent of standing, life, martyrdom, and victory. Tobacco farmers were always the roots of resistance and the symbol of solidity”. “Manchar Sowar is the reflection of our families, their fertile hands, and eyes full of happiness, truth, and life.”
“Once more, I thank the Regie’s General Manager Mr. Nassif Seklaoui and whoever participated in this exhibition. Thank you for bringing the concept into life and delivering every feeling, reality behind the eyes, and the unbeatable hands neither by tire nor by the occupation.”
“Thank you for your efforts, in hopes of meeting again in coming events and of additional success.”
Then Mrs. Berri, the MPs, and Mr. Seklaoui cut the ribbon and walked around the exhibition that included the 47 finalist photographs, including the 6 winning that were chosen by the international professional jury. The overall number of participants was 249, uploading 787 photographs on the Regie’s website.