She is as beautiful and stylish as she is graceful. She is a deeply impassioned advocate for improving the lives of others, not just in Jordan, but around the world. You might find her rubbing shoulders at charity events with other humanitarian movers and shakers like Oprah and Bono one night. The next morning she’ll be at an all-girl school in an impoverished part of Amman encouraging the girls to be the best they can be at whatever they choose to be. After all, she, herself, knows what it’s like to come from humble beginnings and rise to become one of the world’s most beloved and respected women in power. “Who is this woman?” you ask. Why it’s none other than Her Majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan.
Rania Al-Abdullah was born Rania Al-Yassin on August 31, 1970. Her parents are Dr. Faisal Sedki al-Yassin, a pediatrician, and Ilham Yasmin. Both of them are Palestinians who moved to Kuwait from the West Bank just before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. She grew up in Kuwait City where she attended the New English School. For Queen Rania, education was always important. So, after graduating from secondary school, she registered at the Egypt’s American University in Cairo. She earned herself a Business Administration degree in 1991.
Like many Palestinian families living in Kuwait, Rania’s family had to leave the country during the 1991 Gulf War and resettled in Amman. Soon after arriving in the Jordanian capital, Rania got a job with Citibank. Later, she was offered a position with Apple, Inc., which she accepted. It was a decision that would change the course of her life forever.
In January of 1993, a colleague invited Rania to accompany her to a dinner party thrown by Princess Aisha, sister to then Prince Abdullah. Like a fairy tale, His Majesty, who also attended the party that evening, fell in love at first sight. Although, Her Majesty admitted that she was a bit wary, knowing that this was the King of Jordan’s son. Nevertheless, in March 1993, the couple got engaged. They wedded three months later in a traditional Muslim marriage ceremony on the tenth of June. For Queen Rania, fashion has always come as a sixth sense with her. So, she asked British designer Bruce Oldfield to create her wedding dress.
On June 28, 1994, the young royals welcomed their first-born child, Prince Hussein. Two years later, his sister, Princess Iman, joined him on September 27, 1996.
Since his uncle, Crown Prince Hassan, had long been chosen as successor to the throne upon the death of King Hussein bin Talal, Prince Abdullah never gave a second thought to becoming a Hashemite king. However, while he lay on his deathbed, King Hussein proclaimed Prince Abdullah his heir apparent. King Hussein died on 7 February 1999 and Prince Abdullah became King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Six weeks later, on 22 March 1999, Abdullah proclaimed his then 28-year-old wife Queen of Jordan. During the proclamation of her coronation over state television, King Abdullah stated that his wife’s humble, non-royal beginnings made her more in touch with “the hopes and outlooks of people” because she “truly believes in their causes.”
On September 26, 2000, the King and Queen welcomed another daughter, Princess Salma bint Abdullah. On January 30, 2005 their youngest child, Prince Hashem bin Abdullah was born. In July 2009, Crown Prince Hussein was named heir apparent to the throne.
Although Her Majesty’s youth, royal status, and enchanting beauty have made her a global icon, she somehow has always remained incredibly down-to-earth which only adds to her international appeal. Since first becoming Queen, Her Majesty has regularly advocated causes close to her heart and become a progressive female voice in the Arab world. She is passionate about education, public health, women’s empowerment, youth empowerment, the development of a sustainable tourism industry in Jordan, and cross-cultural dialogue between the West and the Arab world. She has become a role model for not only many Jordanian girls, but also many girls from all round the world. One of Queen Rania’s quotes made during her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show states: “As you educate a woman, you educate the family. If you educate the girls, you educate the future.”
Perhaps most notably, and most courageously, she is an outspoken opponent of “honor killings”. These are the traditional practice of the murder of women by members of their own family for perceived violations of family honor. Likewise, she works to help stop the mistaken beliefs about Islam around the world and to help defeat the spread of the extremist ideologies. During a 2015 interview with Nabila Ramdani from MailOnline, Queen Rania said, “We have to stand together united to defeat these groups, and to reduce our suspicion of the West as well, just as the West should not fall for stereotypes about Muslims, and Islamophobia, otherwise it is groups like ISIS who win.” She is also very passionate about campaigning for the refugees fleeing from the turbulent Middle East. All of which came after the rise of terror organizations like ISIS in the region.
It doesn’t stop there, however, as Her Majesty advocates for other initiatives. A few are The Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development, the Jordanian River Foundation, Edraak, The Children’s Museum of Jordan, the Royal Health Awareness Society, The Queen Rania Teacher’s Academy, Madrasati, The Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education, The Jordan Education Initiative, National Council for Family Affairs, and Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans.
With all of this on her plate, the tech-savvy Queen (well, she did work for Apple, Inc., after all) still finds time for social media. In March 2008, she started her own YouTube channel. Her videos aim at engaging Western viewers in a discussion about their perceptions of the Arab world. The first video that she posted was viewed over 1.4 million times just within days of its release. Additionally, Her Majesty also a Facebook page, an active Instagram account, her own website and more than 4.5 million (and counting) followers on Twitter.
And have we mentioned that she is also published four children’s books to date? Inspired by her own experiences as a child she has penned The Sandwich Swap, Eternal Beauty, Maha of the Mountains and The King’s Gift. These titles were declared as New York Times best sellers.
All of her hard work and dedication hasn’t gone without its rewards though. Queen Rania has received several honorary degrees and humanitarian awards for her work. One of which is an honorary doctorate in Science Development and International Cooperation from Sapienza University in Italy. Additionally, she has won the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award and the YouTube Visionary Award, to name just a couple more. In 2010 Glamour magazine named her the Woman of the Year. In 2011 the most beautiful first lady by Harper’s Bazaar.
Yet, despite Queen Rania’s achievements and goals, she has remained characteristically humble. She dubbs herself “a mum and a wife with a really cool day job.” We told you she was down-to-earth.
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