Abdullah II of Jordan
Abdullah in 2008
|King of Jordan|
|Reign||7 February 1999 – present|
|Coronation||9 June 1999|
|Heir apparent||Crown Prince Hussein|
30 January 1962 |
|Spouse||Rania Al-Yassin (m. 1993)|
|Crown Prince Hussein
|House||House of Hashim|
|Father||Hussein of Jordan|
Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein (Arabic: عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين, ʿAbdullāh aṯ-ṯānī ibn Al-Ḥusayn; born 30 January 1962) has been King of Jordan since 1999 upon the death of his father King Hussein. Abdullah is considered to be the 41st generation direct descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, through his belonging to the ancient Hashemite family, which has ruled Jordan since 1921.
Abdullah was born in Amman as the first child of King Hussein and his second wife, the British-born Princess Muna Al-Hussein. Shortly after his birth Abdullah was named Crown Prince. King Hussein transferred the title to his own brother, Prince Hassan, in 1965, only to return it to Abdullah in 1999. Abdullah began his schooling in Amman, later continuing his education abroad. Abdullah assumed command of Jordan's Special Forces in 1994, and became a Major General in 1998. In 1993, he married Rania Al-Yassin, who is of Palestinian descent, with whom he has four children: Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma and Prince Hashem. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum, is his brother-in-law, through marriage to Abdullah's sister Princess Haya bin Al-Hussein.
Despite Jordan being a constitutional monarchy, the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. Abdullah embarked on an aggressive economic liberalization upon assuming the throne, his reforms led to an economic boom that continued till 2005. The following years, Jordan's economy witnessed hardship as it dealt with the spillover of regional turmoil, including the cutout of petroleum supply to Jordan and the collapse of trade with neighboring countries. This coincided with the Arab Spring in 2011, where large-scale protests erupted in the Arab World demanding reforms. Many of these protests culminated in civil wars in some countries, Abdullah responded quickly to domestic unrest by dismissing the government and the parliament, and introducing reforms.
Abdullah introduced proportional representation to the parliament in 2016, and is currently paving the way for parliamentary governments. Despite the reforms, they are considered to be insufficient by critics. Others praise the reforms which took place amid unprecedented regional instability, influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State. Abdullah is widely popular both locally and internationally for having maintained Jordan's stability despite overwhelming odds. He is well-known for promoting peace, interfaith dialogue and the true message of Islam. He is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, a position that his ancestors held for decades. Abdullah is regarded as the most influential Muslim in the world.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Military career
- 3 Reign
- 4 Family and personal life
- 5 Titles, honours and awards
- 6 Ancestry
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Abdullah was born in Amman on 30 January 1962, to King Hussein, during his marriage to his British-born second wife, Princess Muna Al-Hussein. Abdullah is the namesake of his great-grandfather, King Abdullah I, the founder of modern Jordan. He is considered to be the 41st direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad through his belonging to the ancient Hashemite family, which has ruled over the holy city of Mecca for over 700 years until 1925, and ruled over Jordan since 1921.
Hussein only had a daughter during his first marriage, so Abdullah was Hussein's eldest son and as such he was heir apparent to the throne of Jordan under the 1952 constitution. However, after a number of unsuccessful assassination attempts against him, King Hussein appointed his brother Prince Hassan as his heir-apparent, only to return it to Abdullah shortly before his death in 1999. Three more children followed Abdullah during Hussein's second marriage from Princess Muna, two children in his third marriage and four more in his fourth marriage. Abdullah has four brothers and six sisters; Princess Alia, Prince Faisal, Princess Aisha, Princess Zein, Princess Haya, Prince Ali, Prince Hamza, Prince Hashem, Princess Iman, Princess Raiyah. Seven of which are half-siblings.
Abdullah began his schooling in 1966 at the Islamic Educational College in Amman and continued abroad at St Edmund's School, in England. The young prince attended high school in the United States at Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy.
Abdullah began his military career being admitted into Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1980, and was commissioned into the British Army as a Second Lieutenant. He then served a year in Britain and West Germany as a troop commander in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars.
Abdullah was admitted to Pembroke College in 1982, where he completed a one-year Special Studies course in Middle Eastern Affairs. Upon returning home, Abdullah joined the Royal Jordanian Army, serving as an officer in the 40th Armored Brigade, and undergoing a parachuting and freefall course. In 1985, Abdullah attended the Armored Officer's Advanced Course at Fort Knox, and in 1986, he became commander of a tank company in the 91st Armored Brigade, holding the rank of Captain. He also served with the Royal Jordanian Air Force in its Anti-Tank Wing, where he was trained to fly Cobra attack helicopters.
The Prince then attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C in 1987. He returned home to command a tank battalion in 1989, and attended British Staff College in 1990 where he was promoted to Major. Abdullah served in the Office of the Inspector General of the Jordanian Armed Forces as the Armored Corps representative. He commanded a battalion in the 2nd Armored Cavalary Regiment in 1992, and was promoted to Colonel the next year, serving with the 40th Brigade. In 1994, Abdullah assumed command of Jordan's Special Forces and other elite units as Brigader General, where he reorganized them into the Joint Special Operations Command. Abdullah became a Major General in May 1998, and attended a course in defense resources management at the American Naval Postgraduate School in the same year.
Accession and coronation
Abdullah had occasionally acted as regent to King Hussein in the 1990s, but this duty was mostly performed by Hussein's younger brother Crown Prince Hassan. Hussein had frequently travelled to the United States to seek medical treatment after he had been diagnosed with cancer in 1992. In late 1998, after a six months medical absence from Jordan, the King publicly criticized his brother's management of Jordanian internal affairs by accusing him of abusing his powers as regent and crown prince. On 24 January 1999, just two weeks before his death, the King surprised everyone, including Abdullah, by naming him as his heir-apparent, replacing Prince Hassan.
Hussein died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma complications on 7 February 1999, his 47-year reign extended throughout the Cold War and four decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The late King, a respected statesman and a renowned peacemaker, successfully turned his infant country into a modern state. A few hours after the announcement of his father's death, Abdullah went before an emergency session of the parliament. Wearing a Jordanian red-and-white Keffiyeh, Abdullah entered the parliament to quiet applause from representatives and senators, some weeping. Hussein's two brothers, Hassan and Mohammed, walked ahead of him. Abdullah stood in front of a portrait of Hussein at-attention, drawing more applause. Abdullah then spoke in Arabic the oath taken by Hussein almost fifty years before; "I swear by Almighty God to uphold the constitution and to be faithful to the nation". Zaid al-Rifai, speaker of the Senate, opened the session with Al-Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Quran. His voice cracked with emotion as he led the recitation. "God, save his majesty," "God, give him advice and take care of him."
Politics as king
Although Jordan is a constitutional monarchy, the king retains wide executive and legislative powers. In 2010, he was chosen as the fourth most influential Muslim in the world. In the 2016 edition he is leading the field as most influential Muslim.
Jordan's economy has improved since Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999, and he has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships, and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free trade zone and Jordan's flourishing ICT sector. He also set up five other special economic zones: Irbid, Ajloun, Mafraq, Ma'an and the Dead Sea. As a result of these reforms, Jordan's economic growth has doubled to 6% annually under Abdullah's rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s. Foreign direct investment from the West as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf has continued to increase. He also negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States, which was the third free trade agreement for the United States and the first with an Arab country.
In 2008 Abdullah began his Decent Housing for Decent Living campaign in which all Jordanian citizens, and Palestinian refugees, will be guaranteed residential housing with access to community needs such as health, education, and community activities.
Abdullah's speech at The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law in September 2005 was entitled "Traditional Islam: The Path to Peace." While en route to the United States, Abdullah met with Pope Benedict XVI to build on the relations that Jordan had established with Pope John Paul II to discuss ways in which Muslims and Christians can continue to work together for peace, tolerance, and coexistence.
Abdullah announced on 2 March 2007 municipal elections in Jordan and on 25 November 2006 in his parliament address, told the parliament to work on reforms of the press and publication law.
Abdullah has worked for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, attending the Arab Summit in 2002, OIC conferences and having several summits with US, Israeli and Palestinian delegations to find a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. On 6 December 2012, Abdullah traveled to the West Bank to visit the Palestinian Authority, becoming the first head of state to visit the territory after it was accepted as a non-member observer state to the United Nations.
Jordan received criticism when Toujan al-Faisal, Jordan's first female member of Parliament and an outspoken advocate for freedom of expression and human rights, was jailed for slandering the government after she charged it with corruption in a letter to Abdullah. She was pardoned and released by Abdullah. Despite these events, Abdullah has continued his aggressive liberalization of Jordan's media. He recently issued a declaration forbidding detention of journalists in Jordan.
Major General Yair Naveh, GOC of the Israel Defense Forces Homefront Command and former GOC of Israeli Central Command, said in a gathering with reporters that Abdullah might fall and that he could be the last king of Jordan. The statement created tension between the two countries, and afterwards Naveh retracted his statement and apologized. Later, the Israeli prime minister Olmert expressed the disagreement of Israel with Naveh's statement, and referred to it as a personal and irrelevant view.
In March 2007, Ehud Olmert commented on any American withdrawal from Iraq by saying that: "Israel is worried a hasty American withdrawal from Iraq could have negative impact on the Hashemite regime in Jordan..." Jordan's spokesman Nasser Jawdeh replied by saying: "The Israeli prime minister should worry about his political future before worrying about us."
Abdullah has a strong belief in a powerful military and has led Jordan into adopting a "quality over quantity" policy. This policy has led Jordan to acquire advanced weaponry and greatly increase and enhance its F-16 fighter jet fleet. The ground forces have acquired the Challenger 1 main battle tank, a vehicle far superior to the T-72/55 tanks that have traditionally dominated Arab armies.
Abdullah has made women's rights an important part of his dynasty.
On 28 November 2004, Abdullah removed the title of crown prince from his half-brother, Hamzah, whom he had appointed on 7 February 1999, in accordance with their father's wishes. In a letter from Abdullah to Hamzah, read on Jordanian state television, he said, "Your holding this symbolic position has restrained your freedom and hindered our entrusting you with certain responsibilities that you are fully qualified to undertake." No successor to the title was named at that time, but it was anticipated that Abdullah intended to appoint formally his own son and new heir apparent, Prince Hussein, as crown prince. Hussein was granted the title on 2 July 2009.
Democracy in Jordan
In 2005 BBC International published an article titled "Jordan edging towards democracy", where Abdullah expressed his intentions of making Jordan a democratic country. According to the article, United States President George W. Bush urged Abdullah to "...take steps towards democracy." Thus far, however, democratic development has been limited, with the monarchy maintaining most power and its allies dominating parliament.
Elections were held in November 2010, and following the Arab Spring in 2011, a new prime minister was appointed. In June 2011 Abdullah announced a move to a British style of Cabinet Government but it is still under debate. In 2015, the one-vote system was shed. The move is expected to empower political parties, in an attempt to introduce party-based governments chosen by the parliament in the future.
|Jordanian Royal Family|
HM The King
Jordan embarked on an aggressive economic liberalization program when Abdullah ascended the throne in 1999, in an effort to stimulate the economy and raise the standard of living. Jordan's economy has improved since Abdullah's assumption of power. He has been credited with increasing foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and Jordan's flourishing information and communication technology (ICT) sector. He also set up five other special economic zones: Irbid, Ajloun, Mafraq, Ma'an and the Dead Sea. As a result of these reforms, Jordan's economic growth has doubled to 6% annually under Abdullah II's rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s. Direct foreign investment from the West as well as from the countries of the Persian Gulf continued to increase. He also negotiated a free-trade agreement with the United States, which was the third free trade agreement for the United States and the first with an Arab country. Jordan's foreign debt to GDP percentage fell from more than 210 percent in 1990 to 83 percent by the end of 2005, a substantial decrease that was described as an "extraordinary achievement" by the International Monetary Fund. His efforts have turned Jordan into the freest Arab economy and the 9th freest economy in the world according to an 2015 study issued by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty. However, regional turmoil in the 2010s and the Global financial crisis of 2007–08 has severely crippled the Jordanian economy and its growth, making it increasingly reliant on foreign aid.
Nuclear plans for Jordan
In 2007 Abdullah revealed that Jordan has plans to develop nuclear power for internal energy purposes because unlike other countries in the region, Jordan has almost no oil. Jordan is one of the few non-petroleum producing nations in the region and was strategically dependent on subsidized oil from its neighbour Iraq. The 2003 American invasion of Iraq cut the oil supply to Jordan and put its national and energy security at risk. Jordan in 2007 signed a gas deal with Egypt, the pipeline was attacked 37 times by Islamic State affiliates in the Sinai by 2014, this added enormous strain on Jordan's electrical company whose debts rose substantially. The cut in Egyptian gas supplies coincided with Jordan hosting millions of Syrian refugees. The construction of Jordan's first nuclear facility was completed in 2016. It is called Jordan Research and Training Reactor located in Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid which aims to train Jordanian students in the already existing Nuclear engineering program. There will be two other nuclear reactors to be completed by 2023 and 2025 which will be located near Qasr Amra. In turn, the nuclear power plants will desalinate the water and pump it to northern Jordan. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jordan is the world's third poorest country in terms of water resources.
In 2010 Abdullah proposed a World Interfaith Harmony Week at the United Nations, to promote a culture of peace; the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief; and the promotion of interreligious dialogue. In 2016, it was announced that Abdullah will fund the restoration of Christ’s Tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Royal Court informed the Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem of the “makruma” (Royal Benefaction) in a letter of 10 April 2016. According to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the aedicule, the place of burial and resurrection of Christ, will be the object of the restoration. It has remained untouched since 1947 when the British put in place steel support beams as part of a restoration project that never took place.
A careful renovation is undergoing of the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, funded by a $4 million gift from King Abdullah II.
Speaking about the unrest in Syria and Iraq, Abdullah told a delegation of US congressmen in June 2014 of his fears of wider unrest in the Middle East the turmoil in Iraq could spill over into the entire region. He added that any solution to the problems in the war-torn country must involve all of the people of Iraq. Abdullah’s comments put him at odds with Israel on Iraq’s future. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called for full independence for Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, echoing earlier statements by President Shimon Peres. Abdullah’s comments came as the Iraqi army continued to attack jihadist forces that had recently seized large areas of the country north of Baghdad. In the biggest operation at the time against the Islamic State, troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships battled to retake the city of Tikrit.
In 2014, two constitutional amendments, approved by the majority of both upper and lower houses, granted the King of Jordan sole authority to appoint the head of the armed forces and director of the kingdom’s General Intelligence Department (GID). Almost three years earlier, in October 2011, in response to public protests calling for political reforms, Abdullah had approved a number of constitutional amendments that curtailed some of his powers and allowed for the creation of a Constitutional Court and an Independent Elections Commission.
In 2016 a series of constitutional amendments were approved by the overwhelming majority of both upper and lower houses, that would grant the King of Jordan absolute power to appoint his crown prince, deputy, the chief and members of the constitutional court and the head of the paramilitary police force.
According to The Royal Hashemite Court, King Abdullah conducted a total of 1,381 activities in 2015. Of which; 835 were meetings with Jordanian figures, 435 meetings with foreign figures, 92 phone calls with Arab and foreign leaders, 52 military events, 19 speeches and interviews, 36 working visits and received 123 leaders and officials from Arab and foreign countries. Of the total 835 meetings with Jordanian figures; 647 were meetings with officials and 52 were with military staff.
Family and personal life
- Crown Prince Hussein (born 28 June 1994)
- Princess Iman (born 27 September 1996)
- Princess Salma (born 26 September 2000)
- Prince Hashem (born 30 January 2005), who shares his birthday with his father
Abdullah has listed sky diving, rally racing, scuba diving, football, and science fiction among his interests and hobbies. He promotes tourism in Jordan, having served as a tour guide for Discovery Channel travel host Peter Greenberg in the "Jordan: The Royal Tour". In the program Abdullah said that he is no longer permitted to sky dive since his assumption of the throne. Abdullah also likes motorcycles, and toured Northern California on a Harley-Davidson in July 2010.
Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, one of his brothers and president of the Jordan Football Association, has claimed that King Abdullah is the biggest fan of the Jordan national football team. King Abdullah himself was a former president of the football association until he assumed his father's throne and became King of Jordan and was succeeded by Prince Ali.
Abdullah attended Deerfield Academy in his youth, and in appreciation of the schooling he received, he has created King's Academy, a sister institution, in Jordan. He hired Deerfield Headmaster Eric Widmer to lead it, along with many other Deerfield staff. Prior to Deerfield, King Abdullah attended Eaglebrook School. He is the Colonel-in-Chief of the UK Light Dragoons regiment; his previous connection to the unit includes his service as a Troop Leader in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars.
He is a fan of the science fiction series Star Trek. In 1996, while still a prince, he appeared briefly in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Investigations" in a non-speaking role, as he is not a member of the Screen Actors Guild. A Star Trek theme park is planned to open in 2020 as part of the $1.5-billion The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA) project in Aqaba, with the King being the majority local investor.
His interest in the film industry has also influenced his decision to create the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in the Red Sea coastal town of Aqaba, in partnership with the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts on 20 September 2006. When the producers of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen chose to film in Jordan, he called on 38 military helicopters to help transport equipment into Petra.
Abdullah has an interest in the internet and information technology, and commented on two Jordanian blogs that discussed his interview with the Petra News Agency: the Black Iris and the newspaper daily Ad-Dustor.
He is also a fan of stand-up comedian Russell Peters, granting him an audience in 2009 and inviting him for dinner. Abdullah helped push a car stuck in snow in Amman during the 2013 Middle East cold snap.
Titles, honours and awards
King Abdullah II of Jordan
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- 30 January 1962 – 1 March 1965: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Jordan.
- 1 March 1965 – 24 January 1999: His Royal Highness The Prince Abdullah of Jordan.
- 24 January 1999 – 7 February 1999: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Jordan.
- 7 February 1999 – present: His Majesty the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Jordanian national honours
- Jordan :
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (January 2001)
- Collar of the Order of al-Khalifa of Bahrain (4 November 1999)
- Czech Republic:
- Medal for the tenth anniversary of the capital Astana (18 May 2008)
- Order of the Grand Conqueror, 1st class (1 September 1999)
- South Korea:
- Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Charles III (21 April 2006)
- Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Isabel the Catholic (18 October 1999)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Naval Merit, with white distinctive (15 September 1995)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Aeronautical Merit, with white distinctive (23 December 1999)
- Ukraine :
- United Kingdom:
|Ancestors of Abdullah II of Jordan|
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King Abdullah II is a massive Star Trek fan and in 2014, a theme park called the Red Sea Astrarium, which is based on the cult show (though 'cult' barely does it justice) in the coastal town of Aqaba will open for business.
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- "Abdullah II of Jordan collected news and commentary". The Guardian.
- "Abdullah II of Jordan collected news and commentary". The New York Times.
- Works by or about Abdullah II of Jordan in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
Abdullah II of JordanBorn: 30 January 1962
|King of Jordan
Hussein bin Abdullah