Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordon is one of the most illustrious and distinguished couple not only in Arab World but the entire world because of their philanthropic, social and welfare activities for the uplift of down trodden segments societies in different countries falling under the ambit of their philanthropic jurisdiction.
Born in Kuwait and forced to flee during the first Gulf War in 1991, Queen Rania’s early life was much like thousands of other Palestinians’. In 1993 she met Prince Abdullah II bin al-Hussein of Jordan at a party, and the two were married six months later. Her parents are Palestinian. Her mother is Ilham Yasin, a housewife, and her father is Faysal Yasin, a doctor. She has an older sister named Dina and a younger brother named Majdi.
Rania is a strong progressive female voice in the Arab world and a powerful global advocate for education, health and women’s rights. After marrying Prince Abdullah bin Al Hussein on June 10, 1993, they went on to have four children: Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma, and Prince Hashem. In addition to being a wife and mother, Queen Rania works hard to lift the lives of Jordanians by supporting their endeavours and helping to create new opportunities for them.
Locally, she is committed to breathe new life into the public education system; empower communities and women especially through microfinance initiatives; protect children and families; and drive innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, especially amongst young people.
Internationally, Queen Rania is an advocate for tolerance, compassion and bridge building between people of all cultures and backgrounds. Her efforts to simultaneously challenge stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, and promote greater understanding and acceptance between people of all faiths and cultures, have won her global recognition.
Queen Rania’s activities encompass issues such as education, youth and the environment, among others. She also has a special interest in several core issues: reaching out to the global community to foster values of tolerance and acceptance; promoting excellence, creativity and innovation in education; improving the quality of life of the family unit including the protection of children from violence and the promotion of early childhood development; and developing income-generating projects and advancing the best practices in the field of microfinance.
She believes that every Jordanian girl and boy, and all children, must have access not only to stimulating classrooms and modern curricula, but inspiring teachers and technology that can connect Jordan’s children to the world and the world to Jordan’s children.
Known for her business savvy, elegance and outspokenness, Queen Rania has divided opinion between those who feel she should take a more traditional role and those who see her as a shining example for Arab women. I am an Arab through and through, she insists. But I am also one who speaks the international language.
Her efforts in the education sector complement the work of the Ministry of Education through initiatives such as the Jordan Education Initiative, the Queen Rania Teachers Academy, Madrasati, Edraak and others. To realize these and so much more, Queen Rania has encouraged private sector partners to drive improvements and strengthen the foundations of Jordan’s education system.
Queen Rania is also a global voice for access to quality education for children around the world. In 2009, she championed the 1-Goal campaign for education; she is Honorary Chair of the UN Girl’s Education Initiatives and has advocated access to education in forums and gatherings around the world.
Additionally, she contributes to the work of the United Nations Fund and the World Economic Forum. She is the Eminent Advocate for UNICEF; and she was part of the UN appointed High Level Panel who advised on the shape and content of the Sustainable Development Goals which aim to improve the lives of millions of people before 2030.
In recognition of her work, she humbly accepted many awards, locally, regionally and globally. These include the Walther Rathenau Award from the Walther Rathenau Institute in Germany for her efforts to greater peace and understanding; the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award from Tech Awards, USA; the Arab Knight of Giving Award from Arab Giving Forum, UAE; the North South Prize by the North South Prize, Portugal; as well as the YouTube Visionary Award. Her Majesty authored several books primarily for children including the Sandwich Swap, which was inspired by her own childhood experiences.
His Majesty King Abdullah II was born in Amman on January 30, 1962 and began his education at the Islamic Educational College in Amman, Later he attended St. Edmund’s School in Surrey, England, Deerfield Academy in the United States, and Pembroke College, Oxford, and Georgetown University.
In 1980, he enrolled in the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (UK) and was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1981. He served in the British Army in the 13/18th Royal Hussars Regiment, with duties as a reconnaissance troop leader in the United Kingdom and Germany.
In 1985, then-Prince Abdullah returned to Jordan to serve in the armed forces (Armored Corps, 3rd Division). After service as commander of the 2nd Armored Battalion, 40th Armored Brigade, he was named deputy commander, Jordanian Special Forces, in January 1993 and in November 1993, he became commander of Jordan’s Special Forces.
Same year he met Rania Al-Yassin and got married in June. In 1996, he was given the task of reorganizing the Special Forces and other elite units into the new Special Operations Command (SOCOM). In 1998, as SOCOM commander, he was promoted to the rank of major general.
Just before King Hussein of Jordan died in 1999, he named as his successor his eldest son, Abdullah. It was a decision which surprised the Jordanians, who were expecting Queen Noor’s eldest son Hamzah to step into his father’s shoes. Abdullah himself had planned to follow a career behind the scenes, as he put it, in the military.
He assumed constitutional powers as monarch on 7 February 1999 and made the welfare of Jordan’s people the cornerstone of his policies for national development, regional peace and global coexistence. The King’s special concern for the future of Jordan’s young people has put youth engagement, education and opportunity at the top of his agenda.
At home, he has paired economic reforms with political liberalization and an innovative program of national development. He has overseen sweeping educational reforms, which today are energizing Jordan’s private sector and preparing Jordan’s youth for global competitiveness and leadership. To provide real solutions to Jordan’s pressing economic needs King Abdullah ushered in a new era of structural reform and modernization, integration with the world economy and globalization.
Sustainable development, economic growth and social welfare lie at the top of His Majesty King Abdullah II’s priorities. Accordingly, His Majesty has issued directives to provide the necessary climate to ensure development in all its political, economic and social forms takes place by equipping Jordanians with the tools that enable them to contribute to the progress of their country.
Since ascending the Throne in 1999, King Abdullah II has been focused on economic development. Through His Majesty’s efforts, many programmes have borne fruit and enhanced Jordanians’ living conditions. The King has identified several pillars to fulfil this vision, including liberalising and modernising the economy, improving the living standards of all Jordanians, reducing debt, narrowing the budget deficit, joining the global economy, enhancing economic ties with Arab states and other major global markets as well as combating poverty and unemployment.
King Abdullah personally championed Jordan’s accession to the World Trade Organization, presided over Jordan’s becoming the first Arab country to sign a free trade agreement with the United States and has forged new bilateral and multilateral economic alliances with countries from Asia to Latin America.