Foreign skiers at a skiing championship held on Malam Jabba's slopes were left stunned by the hill station's ethereal beauty, with some calling it "a skier’s paradise" and others honouring it as "one of the most beautiful slopes in the world".
The 'Malam Jabba International Alpine Ski Cup', held between January 26 to February 3, 2017, marked the first international ski championship held at Malam Jabba in the hill station's history.
Sixty skiers — 50 men and 10 women — from nine countries, including Pakistan, Morocco, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Greece, Afghanistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Tajikistan, participated in the championship.
"This is no doubt a very beautiful ski slope surrounded by beautiful forest, and I really like it. It is FIS [International Ski Federation] standard and a world-class ski slope," Anthonios, an official from the International Ski Federation who was present during the championship, told Dawn.
He pointed out, however, that the government must reconstruct the road leading to Malam Jabba as it was in really bad shape.
Fatima, a skier from Afghanistan, said she was inspired by the scenic beauty of Malam Jabba. "Its slope is splendid, and the environment is serene," she said.
"It is a really dazzling sight with the green forest surrounding [it] and the people are really well-mannered and hospitable," she told Dawn.
Bahruddin, a skier from Tajikistan, also praised the beauty of Malam Jabba and the facilities provided for skiers.
"Swat valley is really a paradise. I have never seen such a paradise-like ski slope in other parts of the world. Everything in Malam Jabba is heart warming and I wish to come here again and again," he told Dawn.
Skiers from Afghanistan not only praised the scenic beauty of Malam Jabba, but were also impressed by the hospitality of the people.
"I found real hospitality and love in the people here. It seems we have entered a splendidly perfect place on earth," said Mohammad Dawood Kargar, a skier from Afghanistan.
The organisers of the championship said that the successful event proved that Pakistan and Swat valley were not only highly beautiful, but also peaceful.
"We have shown the world that Pakistan is one of the most beautiful and safe countries now. Tourists from across the world can come and can enjoy the scenic beauty and hospitality of the people here," said Air Commodore Shahid Nadeem, one of the organisers of the event.
"This year, Naltar [another popular destination for skiers] saw very little snow, and it is also very far, so we shifted the ski events to Malam Jabba. It is good to know that we now have two international standard ski slopes and we can hold events at both sites," he added.
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