Kfardebian was named last week the “2024 Arab Winter Resort Capital” during a ceremony held at the Mzaar ski slopes and attended by the Saudi Ambassador, Lebanon’s Tourism Minister and of course representatives from the Kfardebian municipality. The designation was made by the Arab Tourism Organization, an organization derived from the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism, and specialized in promoting and developing Arab tourism.

The ATO is based in Saudi Arabia and includes 22 Arab countries: Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Gibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Comoros, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Lybia, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen.

How was Kfardebian selected?

There’s no doubt that Kfardebian is Lebanon’s biggest and most popular winter resort, but does that make it the best in the Arab World? And how did it win this nomination?

The answer, according to the Arab Tourism Organization, is that this town “possesses the most extensive ski slopes in the Middle East. It has a diverse hospitality sector including hotels ranging from 3 to 5 stars, guesthouses, Airbnb, chalets, and youth hostels that accommodate skiing groups”. It also has several restaurants offering Lebanese cuisine in its original form alongside foreign cuisines and restaurants and of course a vibrant night life. Add to that the archaeological sites around the town, namely the Faqra temple and the 200 million years old natural stone bridge.

While all this is true, there are other criteria which the organization takes into account for nominating cities, including tourism infrastructure, tourism resources and management, which are not ideal, to say the least, in Kfardebian but they could have been better than other competing cities or towns for all we know. Speaking of which, I researched to see which other countries have ski resorts and only found two in Morocco (Oukaïmeden) and Algeria (Chrea), which are both members of the ATO. However, from the looks of it, the resorts are not as developed as Mzaar.

This being said, Kfardebian is rightfully the Arab Winter Resort Capital for now, in the hopes that the municipality and the concerned ministries will work on improving the lousy roads leading to it and other imminent matters. More importantly, we need a serious plan to stop the desertification of Lebanon otherwise we won’t be getting any snow to begin with.