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Abdullah II
Pentagon on April 5, 2001
King of Jordan
Reign 7 February 1999 – present (11 years, 25 days)
Enthronement 9 June 1999
Predecessor Hussein
Crown Prince Crown Prince Hussein
Consort Rania Al-Yassin
Hussein, Crown Prince of Jordan
Princess Iman
Princess Salma
Prince Hashem
House Hashemite
Father Hussein of Jordan
Mother Princess Muna al-Hussein
Born 30 January 1962 (1962-01-30) (age 48)
Amman, Jordan
Religion Sunni Muslim

Abdullah II bin al-Hussein (Arabic: الملك عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين‎, al-Malik ʿAbdullāh aṯ-ṯānī bin al-Ḥusayn born Amman, 30 January 1962) is the current King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He ascended the throne on 7 February 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein. King Abdullah is a member of the Hashemite family and is reportedly a 43rd-generation direct descendant of Muhammad.[1] Abdullah has been married to Queen Rania of Jordan since 1993 and his mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein.


Early life

Abdullah was born on 30 January 1962 to King Hussein of Jordan and his second wife, the British-born Princess Muna al-Hussein. He was the king's eldest son and as such he was automatically heir apparent to the throne of Jordan under 1952 constitution. However, due to unstable times in the 1960s, King Hussein decided to appoint his brother, Prince Hassan bin Talal, as his heir.[2]

In the 1980s, the King considered arranging the throne to pass to his brother and then to his son Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, but changed his mind by 1992. He seriously considered appointing one of his nephews as heir, but on his deathbed, on 25 January 1999, he appointed Abdullah as his heir.[3]

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, replacing Hussein's brother Hassan who had served many years in the position.


Politics as King

March 6th, 2007, visiting Washington DC with Queen Rania

King Abdullah is the head of a constitutional monarchy in which the King retains substantial power. Jordan's economy has improved greatly since Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999, and he has been credited with increasing foreign investment, attending meetings between public and private sectors, and providing the foundation for Aqaba's free trade zone. 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.[4] Healthcare is now easy to receive even in rural parts of Jordan. The adult literacy rate is 93% and the youth literacy rate is 99%,[5] the highest in the Arab World. Foreign direct investment from the West as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf has continued to increase.[6]

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.[7]

King Abdullah II has worked for the Middle East 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. He tried to impose a cease-fire when the Israel-Hezbollah war broke out in the summer of 2006. While keeping strong ties to Israel, the King has invested money into the new Palestinian National Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the current President of the PA. He has also helped increase foreign investment in the new Palestinian government.[citation needed]

Palestinians are given citizenship more easily than Iraqi refugees are. Crossing the border into Jordan from Iraq is not much more difficult than it had previously been before the 2005 Amman bombings by Iraqis working with al-Qaeda.[citation needed] The king was expected to pay a lot of attention on domestic policy and domestic issues[8], his cooperation with the United States gained Jordan better economic and military position.[citation needed] His position with peace in the Middle East is met with criticism from Jordanians of Palestinian descent.

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.[9] She was pardoned and released by King Abdullah. 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.

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.[10] The statement created tension between the two countries, and afterwards Naveh retracted his statement and apologized.[11] Later, the Israeli prime minister expressed the disagreement of Israel with Naveh's statement, and referred to it as a personal and irrelevant view.[12][13] 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."[14]

Like his father, King Abdullah pushed forward a policy of reform. In a speech before the United States Congress, King Abdullah presented several political reform strategies to help Jordan become more democratic.[15] The new economic policies have seen many results in Jordan. Abdullah's policies have attracted business to Jordan. 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.[16]

President Barack Obama is seen having tea with King Abdullah II in a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday, 21 April 2009, at the White House.

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.[17] The ground forces have acquired the Challenger 1 main battle tank.[18]

In 2008, King Abdullah began his Decent Housing for Decent Living campaign in which all Jordanian citizens, and even Palestinian refugees, will be guaranteed high quality residential housing with easy access to community needs such as health, education, and community activities.

On 16 April 2008 a new Jordanian political party law went into effect. Parliament passed the law in 2007 but the government agreed to give parties a grace period to organize themselves. Local newspapers in Jordan have reported that only fourteen of Jordan’s thirty-six political parties have been able to comply with the new regulations, which include obtaining a certificate of government support and an increase in minimum party membership from 50 to 500. Parties unable to comply, including eight of the fourteen-party opposition coalition, were forced to dissolve and are calling the new law unconstitutional. The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan’s largest opposition party, was able to comply with the new law.[19]


See Line of succession to the Jordanian throne.
Jordanian Royal Family
Coat of Arms of Jordan.svg

HM Queen Noor

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 late 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, Prince Hussein as crown prince.[20] In 2 July 2009, Abdullah indeed named Prince Hussein as heir.[21]

Nuclear plans for Jordan

On 20 January 2007, King Abdullah revealed to Haaretz that Jordan has plans to develop nuclear power strictly for internal energy purposes because unlike other countries in the region Jordan has almost no oil.[22] According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs though, Jordan is one of the poorest countries in terms of access to drinking water.[23] 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 it will also supply the nuclear power plants with water. In turn, the nuclear power plants will desalinate the water and pump it to northern Jordan.


King Abdullah II supports political and administrative reform to ensure the path to democratization in Jordan. He has recently initiated the decentralization program aimed at giving local communities more say in their own political and economic affairs. He also has called for an end to illicit torture in Jordanian correction centers and has allowed human rights organizations to investigate the state of the Kingdom's prison system. He has called on Jordan's democratically elected Lower House to ensure to carry out recommendations from the National Center for Human Rights.

Abdullah II is involved in the National Agenda, which is a plan for the implementation of various political, economic, legal, and social reforms aimed at making Jordan a knowledge economy with progressive laws and increased government transparency. The National Agenda will carry the country to 2022 through three five year phases.

Economic Liberalization

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. Therefore, Jordan's economic growth peaked at 8% in 2004 and has been averaging at 6%. 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.

King Abdullah is credited with making Jordan more attractive to foreign investment. He has done this through free market reforms making Jordan among the most economically competitive countries in the world. Jordanians also have more economic freedom than many Middle Eastern and European economies. Tens of billions of dollars have been invested in Jordan by Persian Gulf investors, Europeans, Americans, and recently from East Asia. Aqaba alone has seen almost twenty billion dollars worth of investments in less than a decade. Despite the global financial crisis, Jordan still enjoys healthy investment from abroad. The Jordanian Parliament has recently passed several laws like the Investment Promotion Law aimed at keeping Jordan's economic growth at 5-6% despite the global financial crisis.

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 includes a 24 proposed tourism projects, including a 2,000 dunum tourism city that will comprise 900 hotel rooms, restaurants, and outher entertainment facilities with environmental considerations. It is expected that the SEZ will attract billions of dollars of investments and thousands of jobs.

Democracy in Jordan

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."[24] Thus far, however, democratic development has been limited, with the monarchy maintaining most power and its allies dominating parliament. King Abdullah called for a decentralization program which is under implementation. Under the program, citizens will be able to make the decisions for their local community. The first phase of this plan is at the governate level in order to ensure cooperation with the national government for the program to proceed. King Abdullah also decreed that journalists would no longer be imprisoned in Jordan and he called for the liberalization of Jordan's press. He has given his support to the human rights organizations operating in Jordan to conduct investigations on any human rights misdemeanors and called on the government to correct these problems. King Abdullah was commended on his political reform strategies.[15]

However, the move towards greater democracy was derailed when parliamentary elections were canceled shortly after the parliament itself was dissolved in November of 2009. [25]

Marriage and children

King Abdullah is married to Rania al-Abdullah, a Palestinian. They have four children:


King Abdullah has many interests. He has a love and passion for sky diving, rally racing, and scuba diving. He promotes tourism in Jordan, having acted as a tour guide for Discovery Channel travel host Peter Greenberg in order to produce a show called "Jordan: The Royal Tour".[26] In the program the king notes that since assuming the throne, he is no longer permitted to sky dive.

King Abdullah attended Deerfield Academy in his youth, and in appreciation of the schooling he received, he has created a sister institution King's Academy in Jordan. He even hired then-Deerfield-Headmaster Eric Widmer, along with many other Deerfield staff to lead it. Prior to Deerfield, King Abdullah attended Eaglebrook School, where he received strong foundation in leadership skills and oratory training.

Acting as an extra in Star Trek: Voyager

The king is also an acknowledged fan of the science fiction saga Star Trek. In 1996, while he was still a Prince, he appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Investigations". It was a non-speaking role as he was not a member of the Screen Actors Guild.[27]

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.[28] When the crew of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen decided that they were going to film in Jordan, he called on 38 military helicopters to help transport equipment into Petra.

King Abdullah II has a great interest in the internet and information technology. This is one of the reasons why he put ICT at the forefront of Jordan's economic development. In an unprecedented move, King Abdullah commented on two Jordanian blogs that discussed his interview with the Petra News Agency, the Black Iris and the newspaper daily Ad-Dustor, showing his support for dialogue and debate in the Kingdom. His comment on the blogs was as follows:

"Thank you all for your feedback and comments. I am very happy and proud to see so many responsible citizens engaging in this dialogue. People must not be afraid to express their opinions without using aliases. We are a country of freedom, tolerance, diversity and openness, and everyone has the right to express their thoughts – no matter what they are – in an atmosphere of respect, so long as they are not personally offending others, attempting character assassination or undermining the nation’s interest. Your comments only indicate how deeply you care about Jordan and its future and I am happy that we are partners in the development process."



See also


  1. ^ (2006), His Majesty King Abdullah II: King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Royal Hashemite Court. Retrieved on 14 December 2007
  2. ^ Robins, 193.
  3. ^ Robins, 196.
  4. ^ Jordan—Concluding Statement for the 2006 Article IV Consultation and Fourth Post-Program Monitoring Discussions, International Monetary Fund, 28 November 2006. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  5. ^ Unicef. "At a glance: Jordan". Retrieved on 14 December 2007.
  6. ^ Trade and Investment, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Accessed 22 July 2008.
  7. ^ Hussein, Mohammad Ben. King opens Parliament today, Jordan Times, 28 November 2006. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Jordan jails outspoken dissident", BBC News, 16 May 2002. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  10. ^ Bannoura, Saed. Naveh: “King Abdullah is liable to be the last king of Jordan”, Occupation Magazine, 23 February 2006. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  11. ^ Israeli general in Jordan apology, BBC News, 23 February 2006. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Jordan irked by Olmert remarks on Iraq pullout, Khaleej Times, 19 March 2007. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  15. ^ a b The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Reform and Development in Jordan: Toward an Arab Renaissance. Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
  16. ^ White House Office of the Press Secretary (28 September 2001), Overview: U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
  17. ^ Defense Industry Daily (2007-02-14). "Jordan Buys 20 F-16 MLU from Holland, Belgium (updated)". Watershed Publishing. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  18. ^ FV4030/4 Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank
  19. ^,zme#news
  20. ^ Jordan crown prince loses title, BBC News, 29 November 2004. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  21. ^ Prince Hussein named Crown Prince, Jordan Times, 3 July 2009. Accessed 3 July 2009.
  22. ^ Eldar, Akiva. King Abdullah to Haaretz: Jordan aims to develop nuclear power, Haaretz, 20 January 2007. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  23. ^ JORDAN: Water shortage remains a constant headache
  24. ^ Jordan edging towards democracy, BBC News, 27 January 2005. Accessed 3 June 2008.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Jordan: The Royal Tour" at imdb
  27. ^ BBC News | Entertainment | The King of Star Trek
  28. ^ Jordan Signs Agreement With USC To Create Middle East Cinema Institute.
  29. ^ Arab Crunch | Blogging | King Abdullah II comments on Jordan’s Black Iris blog and Addusstor


  • *Robins, Philip: A History of Jordan Cambridge University Press 2004 ISBN 0521598958

External links

Abdullah II of Jordan
Born: 4 February 1962
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Jordan
1999 – Present
Prince Hussein bin Al Abdullah
Royal titles
Preceded by
Muhammad bin Talal
Heir to the throne of Jordan
Succeeded by
Hassan bin Talal
Preceded by
Hassan bin Talal
Heir to the throne of Jordan
25 January 1999 - 7 February 1999
Succeeded by
Hamzah bin Al Hussein


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