Abdullah II

▪ 2000

      Following the death on Feb. 7, 1999, of his father, King Hussein (see Obituaries (Hussein )), Crown Prince Abdullah became king of Jordan at the age of 37. His succession to the throne was decided a month earlier, when the ailing Hussein named him as the new heir to the Hashimite crown in favour of the king's brother, Prince Hassan, who had been designated for several decades as the heir apparent. In his new role Abdullah II continued to follow many of his father's policies; he supported an Arab-Israeli peace agreement. He distanced himself, however, from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. In an effort to bolster Jordan's weak economy, Abdullah II maintained that the new government, formed in March, would focus on economic reforms. He also pledged to secure relations with other Arab countries and improve the status of women.

      Abdullah ibn Hussein was born on Jan. 30, 1962, in Amman, Jordan. He was one of 12 children born to Hussein and was the son of the king's second wife, Toni Gardiner, who was British. Until the age of three, Abdullah had served as the crown prince, but the dangerous events and hostile environment in the Middle East prompted Hussein to name Abdullah's adult uncle as heir to the throne.

      At the age of four, Abdullah was sent to Great Britain to begin his studies. He later completed his secondary education in the U.S. at Deerfield Academy, Mass., and took courses at both the University of Oxford and Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. Following in his father's footsteps, he graduated (1980) from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Eng. Abdullah served in the British Armed Forces and subsequently served in Jordan's Armed Forces in the 41st and 90th armoured brigades. In 1993 he was appointed deputy commander of the country's elite Special Forces, a post he held until assuming the throne. In June 1993 Abdullah married a Palestinian, Rania, with whom he had two children, Hussein and Imam.

      As king, Abdullah II vowed to continue the work begun by his father and to blend Arab traditions with the more modern ones of the West. Abdullah II socialized with other Jordanians, as his father had, and he was known to have disguised himself as a taxi driver and a television reporter so that he could remain in touch with his people and hear their views. His popularity among the armed forces, long considered a pillar of the throne, also provided some support for his new role. Because he had no government experience, however, many wondered whether Abdullah's charisma would be enough to help him rule; some Jordanians still viewed him as a military man, not a statesman.

Amy Weber

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▪ king of Jordan
in full  Abdullah ibn Hussein 
born January 30, 1962, Amman, Jordan

      king of Jordan from 1999. A member of the Hashimite (Hāshimite) dynasty, he was considered by pious Muslims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (see Ahl al-Bayt).

      Abdullah, the eldest son of King Hussein (Ḥussein), served as the crown prince until age three, when unrest in the Middle East prompted Hussein to name Abdullah's adult uncle, Prince Hassan, heir to the throne. Abdullah was educated in Great Britain and the United States, and in 1980 he graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England. He later served in the British Armed Forces as well as in Jordan's Armed Forces in the 41st and 90th armoured brigades. In 1993 he was appointed deputy commander of the country's elite Special Forces, a post he held until assuming the throne. That year Abdullah married a Palestinian, Rania al-Yasin, with whom he had two children, Hussein and Imam.

      In January 1999 King Hussein, whose health was deteriorating, named Abdullah the new heir to the Hashimite crown. Hours after the death of his father on February 7, 1999, Abdullah became king of Jordan; he was officially crowned on June 9. In his new role, Abdullah continued to follow many of his father's policies, including supporting an Arab-Israeli peace agreement. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Abdullah supported the United States' efforts to combat terrorism. He also focused on stemming the power of Islamists in Jordan and improving the status of women in his country. In an effort to bolster the weak economy, he promoted free market reforms.

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Universalium. 2010.

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