Telecom ministry events always give me something to write about. So I was sure to attend the announcement of winners for the 4G trial and “be-the-minister” for a day competition at the ministry’s auditorium this afternoon. 
Ahead of Lebanon’s 4G rollout–at some point this year–the Telecom Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui had launched the contest, calling on contestants to ‘guess his accomplishments’ at this interactive site for a chance to win 200 4G test subscriptions as well as a chance to ‘be-the-minister’ for a day. 
But even for those that didn’t compete, all event attendees received a ballot to win a prize upon arrival. (top photo).
A hundred or so people showed up including ministry employees and a few dozen students at the back:

And after a few speeches praising the minister’s achievements from various officials, the draw was on!

First 200 names were called–out of 5,000 that completed the online form– which quizzed users on half a dozen or so ministry accomplishments. 
Then 40 even more swanky prizes were handed out from the door draw, including new iPhones, iPads, Blackberry 10s, Samsung phones/tablets and bundles of free internet credit.

The audience winners were lining up:

They were moving so fast I could barely get a clear shot:

Even an older newspaper photographer won. The minister’s advisor asked if I could take a picture with his camera.

Almost everyone in the room won:

I wondered who was paying for all these prizes. Maybe all the Samsung banners hung up in the hall could explain that:

The minister also announced that a new competition would be launched called “Re-inventing the world,” encouraging Lebanese bloggers to come up with solutions to the world’s problems. The best post gets a trip with the Minister to Silicon Valley next month. You can register for that here.

It’s hard to keep up with the minister. He seems to be launching new events every day at universities, hotels and exhibition spaces across the country. For more background on the sector, here’s a piece I wrote for Bold Magazine following the last one I attended.

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