Not everybody realizes that there’s a great ski destination in the Eastern Mediterranean. ‘Skiing in the Middle East’ sounds almost like a contradiction, unless you imagine the artificial slopes of Dubai. But little-known Lebanon makes a great white holiday without the lines and congestion of some of its more famous European counterparts. Here are more little-known facts about skiing in Lebanon:
1) You can hit the slopes in half an hour.
Lebanon is a small country, which you can drive across in less than three hours. There are two mountain ranges that are separated by the Bekaa Valley, and some of the best skiing to be found is on the western mountain range, toward Beirut. This means that you can get from the capital to some of the best Lebanon ski resorts in about half an hour!
2) It is less than 100 years old.
The sport of skiing arrived in Lebanon in the early 20th century, when an engineer from Lebanon went to study in Switzerland and came back to his home country with a new-found love for the sport. This was in 1913. The first ski club wasn’t formed until 1934. Skiing really took off as a commercial activity in the early 90’s.
3) The word ‘Lebanon’ actually means ‘snow’
Although skiing wasn’t introduced in Lebanon until relatively recently, the area has been known as a snowy white haven in the Middle East. ‘Lebanon’ is derived from the Semitic word ‘laban’, which means ‘white.’ It’s no wonder that this is the first impression of Lebanon for the ancient civilizations who first beheld it — its stunning white peaks rising just beyond the Mediterranean are characteristically Lebanon.
4) You can reach 3088 meters of altitude.
The highest peak in Lebanon, called Korneh El Sawda towers at an impressive 3088 meters above sea level. Many people choose to reach the highest summit by hike during the summer months. Like most peaks in Lebanon that are over 2500 meters, it is covered in snow for over 6 months of the year. The closest ski resort is Cedars, which has some of the highest slopes in Lebanon. Check out our Lebanon ski resorts comparison for the stats.
5) Lebanon goes for Olympic gold
With great ski infrastructure in place, Lebanon has been able to send a number of local champions to the Olympics and World Championships. Lebanese skiers represented their country in 1964, 1967, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1988, and 1992. Rumor has it that engineers are working to build additional slopes that will rival world-class resorts, and Lebanon will eventually bid to host its own winter Olympic Games.
If you haven’t already checked out the ski scene in Lebanon, this winter is the time to do it. Ski season starts in December, so start planning your Lebanon ski holiday today!