Sustainable Development

Minister Raya El-Hassan while representing PM Hariri: Women can now change the political image of the country

14 March 2019
Minister Raya El-Hassan while representing PM Hariri: Women can now change the political image of the country
Regie distributes awards for winners in “Manchar Souwar 3” photography competition
Under the patronage of his excellency, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, represented by Minister of Interior Raya El-Hassan, La Regie Libanaise Des Tabacs Et Tombacs (Regie) held an event on Friday at Beit Beirut in Sodeco to distribute the awards for the winners in Manchar Souwar competition that held this year the theme of women working in the field of tobacco and tombac planting.

In this regard, Regie held an exhibition for the participating and winning photos, attended by a number of official, political, security, economic, and cultural figures among them the Governor of Beirut Ziad Chebib, the Director General of Regie Engineer Nassif Sekaloui, Engineer George Hobeika, Doctor Issam Salman and Engineer Mazen Abboud.

As part of the competition, Regie had received from 150 participants, who are both professionals and amateurs from Lebanon and abroad, 800 photos that were all uploaded on its website. From those pictures, 34 made it to the final phase, became part of the exhibition, and were added to a special booklet about this competition which aims at supporting artists and the capabilities of the youths as well as shedding light on the importance of the agricultural sector as part of Regie’s sustainable development plan.

Minister Raya El-Hassan

In her speech, Minister El-Hassan conveyed the appreciation of PM Hariri for this special initiative that he checked the first 2 versions of it during Beirut Art Fair. 

El-Hassan expressed admiration for all the exhibited photos and for the idea of the competition and the name given for it and noted that such creative ideas are not far from being implemented by a successful institution as Regie that has managed to prove its excellence; adding that she sensed this success when she was on top of the Ministry of Finance.

The Minister stated that Regie had accomplished major achievements at different levels and “is a model for institutions that we aspire to have at the public sector as it is an important source of revenue for the treasury.”

“It’s such a coincidence that this year’s topic revolves around females who work in tobacco and tombacs; the same year when Lebanese women managed to harvest what they’ve been planting for years as they called for assuming greater public roles. This year, we’ve got more female deputies and a better female representation at the cabinet.”

Minister El-Hassan added: “We’re still at the beginning of this path and we need a lot more than that to reach the ideal representation of females and to reach political equality with males mainly at the leading public sector positions. What’s more important than that is that we managed to open this road and remove from it all the ‘bulky roadblocks’.”

“Commenting on the photos that reflect the efforts and capabilities of the working women, I would like to assure you that Lebanese women who are working in politics have become very efficient and the image is no longer the same; these women have become the core of the political scene; they have now a heard voice, an active role, a balanced presence and a valuable participation. These ladies are now capable of changing the country’s political image.”

To conclude her speech, Minister El-Hassan said: “From tobacco fields where those photos were taken, real equality between both genders and active participation has to start. Equality starts by sweating as we work, by sharing the fatigue and by partnership when sharing the joy of harvesting the products. For all this, I want to thank Regie; a special thanks for highlighting the role of women in tobacco cultivation and planting.”
Engineer Nassif Seklaoui

In turn, Engineer Seklaoui welcomed Minister El-Hassan and mentioned that this gathering is very meaningful because first it is under the patronage of PM Hariri who is represented by the first female minister of interior in the Arab World Raya El-Hassan, second because it is being held at a location that holds a lot of Beirut memories and third because it is tribute to all women during women’s month.

In this regard, Eng. Seklaui said: “We were not the ones who chose PM Hariri to sponsor this photography exhibition that rotates around women but it was the PM’s keenness on the role and affairs of women that made his patronage natural and obvious.” 

He added: “How can we not choose PM Hariri and he was the one to have female ministers on top of ministries that were exclusive for male ministers. This only indicates that he has great faith and confidence in the competence, wisdom, and capabilities of women in terms of initiating and implementing and he made a great decision when he chose Minister Raya El-Hassan with whom we had a great experience as she left a great positive impact on Regie family.”

“Allow me to congratulate Lebanese women for having a prime minister as PM Saad Hariri and allow me to thank him for sponsoring this art event that contains the creative youths and aims at enhancing their capabilities and that celebrates women in general and those who work in tobacco planting specifically; it also sheds light on an agricultural industry that supports more than 25 thousand families in 450 towns.”

On another note, Eng. Seklaoui said that Regie chose Beit Beirut as a location for this exhibition because here is where Beirut stands. Beirut that emerged as a phoenix 7 times is similar in its determination to the young women and men of Lebanon who face their challenges daily through new initiatives and talents that keep them attached to their country.

“Here is the heart, and from this heart we want to give hope to the talented youths of this country. From this place that witnessed the history and sacrifices of Beirut, we want it to witness as well the sacrifices of our women who were and are still the basis for drawing a better future for Lebanese women. From this place that has been a witness for the beauty of Beirut, we want to reflect the best image of Lebanon, it valleys, its fields, the strengths of its women and their courage, and their role in society and in sustainable development.”

Consequently, Eng. Seklaoui reminded the attendees that Manchar Souwar is the fruit of a photography competition launched by Regie as part of its sustainable development plan and added: “development is not an option for us; it is our responsibility towards our families, the young women and men and also the children.”

“We pledged our commitment and will stick to it.”

In this context, he mentioned that more than 150 females and males participated in this year’s Manchar Souwar competition pointing out that they headed to the fields even before sunrise and came back with plenty of photographs and memories.

He also noted that their photographs reflected the best image of tobacco planting and the women who work in this field. The images showed the giving hands of these women, their strengths, strive, courage, determination, and excellence.

“We are not exaggerating if we say that she (the woman) is the basis. The tobacco plant is a female, the soil nourishing it is a female, the sun is a female and so is the rainwater that is irrigating it. Even the giving hand that is planting, harvesting, compressing and drying is a female. A thousand greetings to that female!”


As for the results that were announced by Rana Kamaleddine, Lisa Terezian won the jury’s award for the best photograph and was awarded USD 5,000 and a professional camera. Ahlam Jaber won the second prize and was awarded USD 3,000 and a camera as well. As for the third prize, it was awarded to Mohammed Ajina who won USD 2,000 and a professional camera.

It is worth noting that the jury members evaluated the images while the public
voted online through Regie’s website and all its pages on social media platforms.

As for the jury, it was composed from Visual Artist and Researcher Sirine Fattouh, Professional Photographers Lynn Dagher, Roger Moukarzel and Patrick Bazz and Art Consultant Rania Tabbara.

And to better enhance the role of working women, Regie organized as part of Manchar Souwar a number of workshops that addressed mainly the daughters of tobacco farmers who were between 18 and 25 years old. These workshops were held in the North, South and Bekaa.
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