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Abdullah II of Jordan

Abdullah II
File:King Abdullah portrait.jpg
King of Jordan
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7 February 1999 – present
Coronation 9 June 1999
Predecessor Hussein
Heir apparent Hussein bin Abdullah
Prime Ministers
Spouse Rania Al-Yassin
Crown Prince Hussein
Princess Iman
Princess Salma
Prince Hashem
Full name
Abdullah bin Hussein bin Talal bin Abdullah bin Hussein bin Ali
House House of Hashim
Father Hussein of Jordan
Mother Muna al-Hussein
Born (1962-01-30) 30 January 1962 (age 54)[1]
Amman, Jordan
Religion Sunni Islam

Abdullah II bin al-Hussein (Arabic: عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين‎, ʿAbdullāh aṯ-ṯānī ibn al-Ḥusayn; born 30 January 1962) is the King of Jordan after he ascended the throne on 7 February 1999 upon the death of his father King Hussein. He is a member of the Hashemite family which has ruled Jordan since 1946 and claims to be descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[2]

Abdullah, was born to Hussein from his second wife, the British-born Princess Muna al-Hussein. He was named as crown prince shortly after his birth. The King Hussein transferred the title to his own brother, Hassan, in 1965, only to return it to Abdullah in 1999. He is married to Queen Rania who is of Palestinian origin. In 1993, he assumed command of Jordan's special forces and became a Major General in May 1998.[1][3]

Early life

Abdullah was born in Amman to King Hussein during his marriage to British-born Princess Muna al-Hussein (born Antoinette Avril Gardiner). He was the king's eldest son[1] and as such he was heir apparent to the throne of Jordan under the 1952 constitution. However, due to unstable times in the 1960s, King Hussein decided to appoint his brother, Prince Hassan bin Talal, as his heir.[1][4]

Abdullah began his schooling at the Islamic Educational College in Amman. He then attended St Edmund's School, Hindhead, in England, before continuing his education in the United States at Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts. In 1980 he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, was commissioned into the British Army as a Second Lieutenant, and served for a year as a troop commander in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars.[1][5] In 1982, Abdullah was admitted to Pembroke College, Oxford, where he completed a one-year Special Studies course in Middle Eastern Affairs. Upon returning home, he joined the Royal Jordanian Army, serving as an officer in the 40th Armored Brigade, and undergoing a parachuting and freefall course. In 1985, he 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.[6] He also served with the Royal Jordanian Air Force in its Anti-Tank Wing, where he was trained to fly Cobra attack helicopters.[7]

In 1987, he attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.[8]

In 1993, he assumed command of Jordan's special forces and became a Major General in May 1998.

In the 1960s, King Hussein had arranged for the throne to pass to his brother and then to his son Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, but he later decided to change his mind. He seriously considered appointing one of his nephews as heir, but on his deathbed, on 25 January 1999, he named Abdullah as his heir.[9]

King of Jordan

Abdullah became king on 7 February 1999, upon the death of his father King Hussein. Hussein had recently named him crown prince on 24 January, changing the constitution and replacing Hussein's brother Hassan, who had served many years in the position (nearly 34 years, from 1965 to 1999). His namesake is King Abdullah I, his great grandfather who founded modern Jordan.[10]

A few hours after the announcement of his father's death, Abdullah went before an emergency session of the Jordanian National Assembly. Wearing a red-and-white Keffiyeh, Abdullah entered the parliament to quiet applause from senators and assemblymen, 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. He then spoke in Arabic the oath taken by Hussein almost fifty years before; "I swear by Almighty Allah to uphold the constitution and to be faithful to the nation". Zaid al-Rifai, speaker of the House of Notables (Senate), opened the session with Al-Fatiha, the opening Sura (chapter) of the Quran. His voice cracked with emotion as he led the recitation. "Allah, save his majesty," "Allah, give him advice and take care of him."[11]

Politics as king

File:King Abdullah II & Queen Rania of Jordan in WashingtonDC, 2007March06.jpg
Abdullah II alongside with Queen Rania meets President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in Washington D.C., 6 March 2007

King Abdullah II is the head of a constitutional monarchy in which the king retains substantial power. In 2010, he was chosen as the fourth most influential Muslim in the world.[12]

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 King Abdullah's rule compared to the latter half of the 1990s.[13] Foreign direct investment from the West as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf has continued to increase.[14] He also negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States, which was the third free trade agreement for the U.S. and the first with an Arab country.[15]

In 2008, King 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, King 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.

The King announced on 2 March 2007 municipal elections in Jordan and in 25 November 2006 in his parliament address, told the parliament to work on reforms of the press and publication law.[16]

King Abdullah II 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, King 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.[17]

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.[18] She was pardoned and released by King Abdullah.[citation needed] Despite these events, King Abdullah has continued his aggressive liberalization of Jordan's media. He recently issued a declaration forbidding detention of journalists in Jordan.[citation needed]

File:Barack Obama meets with Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House 4-21-09.jpg
Abdullah II in a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, 21 April 2009, in Washington, D.C.

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 King Abdullah might fall and that he could be Jordan's last king. The statement created tension between the two countries, and afterwards Naveh retracted his statement and apologized.[19] 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.[20][21]

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."[22]

King 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.[23] The ground forces have acquired the Challenger 1 main battle tank,[24] 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.[1]


See Line of succession to the Jordanian throne.

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.[25] Hussein was granted the title on 2 July 2009.[26]

Democracy in Jordan

In 2005 BBC International published an article titled "Jordan edging towards democracy", where King Abdullah expressed his intentions of making Jordan a democratic country. According to the article, President George W. Bush "urged King Abdullah, a U.S. ally, to take steps towards democracy."[27] 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 the King announced a move to a British style of Cabinet Government but it is still under debate.

Economic liberalization

Jordanian Royal Family

HM The King
HM The Queen

HM Queen Noor

Jordan has embarked on an aggressive economic liberalization program under King Abdullah II in an effort to stimulate the economy and raise the standard of living. Jordan's economic growth peaked at 8 percent in 2004 and has been averaging at 7 percent. King Abdullah II has liberalized the telecommunications sector and has implemented an ICT curriculum into Jordan's education system. This has made Jordan's telecommunications sector the most competitive in the region. King Abdullah called on the government to lower internet prices in an effort to increase internet penetration to 50% by 2010. He is also very involved in promoting Jordan's tourism sector, especially with the establishment of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone.

Under King Abdullah II, the air transport sector was liberalized. Also, King Abdullah II established six special economic zones: Aqaba, Ma'an, Mafraq, Irbid, the Dead Sea, and Ajloun. Each SEZ has its own niche which will carve a unique identity for that region of Jordan. The Aqaba SEZ is primarily devoted to tourism and industry. The Ma'an SEZ is industrial primarily with a focus on renewable energy resources especially solar energy. The world's largest solar power plant will be constructed in Ma'an. The Mafraq SEZ will become a regional hub in transport and logistics with planned air, road, and rail connections to neighboring countries. The Irbid SEZ is adjacent to the Jordan University of Science and Technology and it will focus on scientific and medical facilities. The recently launched Dead Sea zone will focus on tourism and entertainment. The Ajloun SEZ consists of 24 proposed tourism projects, including a 2,000 dunum tourism city that will comprise 900 hotel rooms, restaurants, and other entertainment facilities with environmental considerations.

Nuclear plans for Jordan

On 20 January 2007, King Abdullah revealed to Haaretz that Jordan has plans to develop nuclear power for internal energy purposes because unlike other countries in the region Jordan has almost no oil.[28] Jordan is one of the few non-petroleum producing nations in the region and is strategically dependent on oil from its neighbor, Iraq. Continuing civil unrest in Iraq puts Jordanian national and energy security at risk. Jordan's first nuclear power plant will be ready by 2015 and it will be located in Aqaba. There are more nuclear power plants planned in Karak and near the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea project which will provide Jordan with all the much needed water resources it needs, it will also supply the shrinking Dead Sea and nuclear power plants with water. 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 one of the poorest countries in terms of water resources.[29])

Interfaith work

In 2010, King Abdullah proposed a World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN, 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.[1]

Regional unrest

Speaking about the unrest in Syria and Iraq, Abdullah II told a delegation of US congressmen Sunday (29 June 2014) (What date?) that he fears 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.[30]

This followed reports of ISIS activity inside Jordan itself, A few demonstrators angry with the government unfurled the black battle flags of the al-Qaeda-inspired extremists, then in control of large swaths of Iraq, in Ma'an, stirring fears that support for the group was growing in Jordan. At two rallies in Maan that same week, scores of young teens, some in black masks, raised their fists, waved home-made banners bearing the logo and inscriptions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and shouted, "Down, down with Abdullah," the king of Jordan.[31]

Increased powers

In August 2014 the Jordanian government announced that it would ask parliament to approve two constitutional amendments giving King Abdullah 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, King Abdullah II 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.[32]

Family and personal life

King Abdullah is married to Palestinian Rania al-Abdullah.[1] He is the first king of Jordan who has never had more than one wife. They have four children:

King 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".[33] In the program the king notes that since assuming the throne, he is no longer permitted to sky dive. King Abdullah also likes motorcycles, and toured Northern California on a Harley-Davidson in July 2010.[34]

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.

King 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.[35] A Star Trek theme park is planned to open in 2017[36] as part of the $1.5-billion The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA) project in Aqaba, with the King being the majority local investor.[37]

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.[38] 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.

King Abdullah II 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.[39]

He is also a fan of stand-up comedian Russell Peters, granting him an audience in 2009 and inviting him for dinner.[40]

On 13 December 2013 in the 2013 Middle East cold snap in Amman he helped to push a car which was stuck in deep snow in a street.[41]

Titles, honours and awards


Template:Infobox Monarch styles


Jordanian National Honours

Arab and non-Arab Honours


Published works

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abdullah II". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  2. Jordan profile
  3. (2006), His Majesty King Abdullah II: King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Royal Hashemite Court. Retrieved on 14 December 2007
  4. Robins, 193.
  5. Teller, Matthew (26 August 2014). "Sandhurst's sheikhs: Why do so many Gulf royals receive military training in the UK?". BBC News. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  6. King Abdullah II of Jordan (22 February 2011). Our Last Best Chance: A Story of War and Peace. Penguin Group US. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-101-19013-5. 
    Publitec Publications (1 January 2007). Who's Who in the Arab World 2007-2008. Walter de Gruyter. p. 34. ISBN 978-3-11-093004-7. 
  7. Jordan Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments, p. 116
  8. "His Majesty King Abdullah II is the 43rd generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad". Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  9. Robins, 196.
  11. Los Angeles Times 8 February 1999 (Jordan Mourns King as Leaders Gather at Funeral)
  12. "Welcome to The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre". Rissc. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  13. Jordan—Concluding Statement for the 2006 Article IV Consultation and Fourth Post-Program Monitoring Discussions, International Monetary Fund, 28 November 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  14. Trade and Investment, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
  15. White House Office of the Press Secretary (28 September 2001), Overview: U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  16. Hussein, Mohammad Ben. King opens Parliament today, Jordan Times, 28 November 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  17. Kershner, Isabel (6 December 2012). "Visit to West Bank by King Gives Palestinians a Lift". The New York Times (Jerusalem). Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  18. "Jordan jails outspoken dissident", BBC News, 16 May 2002. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  19. Israeli general in Jordan apology, BBC News, 23 February 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  20. "Olmert apologises to King, Jordan for general's remarks". 24 February 2006. Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  21. "Israeli general in Jordan apology". BBC. 23 February 2006. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  22. Jordan irked by Olmert remarks on Iraq pullout, Khaleej Times, 19 March 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  23. Defense Industry Daily (14 February 2007). "Jordan Buys 20 F-16 MLU from Holland, Belgium (updated)". Watershed Publishing. Retrieved 26 January 2008. 
  24. "FV4030/4 Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank". 11 July 2006. Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  25. Jordan crown prince loses title, BBC News, 29 November 2004. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  26. Prince Hussein named Crown Prince, Jordan Times, 3 July 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009
  27. "Jordan edging towards democracy", BBC News, 27 January 2005. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  28. Eldar, Akiva. King Abdullah to Haaretz: Jordan aims to develop nuclear power, Haaretz, 20 January 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  29. "Water shortage remains a constant headache". Irin News. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  30. Winer, Stuart (30 June 2014). "Jordan’s king: We fear spread of Iraq chaos". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  31. Booth, William; Luck, Taylor (27 June 2014). "Jordan fears homegrown ISIS more than invasion from Iraq". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  32. Al-Sharif, Osama (25 August 2014). "Jordan's king pushes to expand military, intelligence authority". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 16 May 2015. 
  33. "Jordan: The Royal Tour" at imdb
  34. Paradise Post newspaper article published 15 July 2010
  35. "The King of Star Trek". BBC. 11 February 1999. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  36. "(Jordanie) The Red Sea Astrarium incluant parc d'attractions Paramount (2017)". Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  37. Levy, Glen (3 August 2011). "Captain Kirk's Coaster: 'Star Trek' Theme Park Coming to Jordan". Time (magazine). Retrieved 4 August 2011. 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. 
  38. Jordan Signs Agreement With USC To Create Middle East Cinema Institute.
  39. "Blogging | King Abdullah II comments on Jordan’s Black Iris blog and Addusstor". Arab Crunch. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  40. "Peters hangs out with Jordan's king". Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  41. Jill Reily (16 December 2013). "Can you gives us a push, your highness? King of Jordan helps family after their car became stuck in freak snow storm". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  42. 42.00 42.01 42.02 42.03 42.04 42.05 42.06 42.07 42.08 42.09 42.10 42.11 42.12 42.13 42.14 42.15 42.16 42.17 42.18 42.19 Royal Ark, Jordanian genealogy details
  43. Italian Presidency Website, S.A.R. Abdullah Bin Al Hussein Principe di Giordania : Cavaliere di Gran Croce ; S.M. Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein Re di Giordania Decorato di Gran Cordone
  44. PPE Agency, State visit of Jordan in Netherlands 2006, Photo
  45. 45.0 45.1 "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas" (in português). Portuguese Presidency ( Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  46. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  47. Invalid language code. Order of President of Ukraine № 698/2011 "About awarding Abdullah II Order of Merit"
  48. Invalid language code. Order of President of Ukraine № 366/2002 "About awarding Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise"

Further reading

  • Robins, Philip. A History of Jordan, Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-521-59895-8

External links

Abdullah II of Jordan
Born: 30 January 1962
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Jordan
Heir apparent:
Hussein bin Abdullah

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