Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein (Arabic: الملك عبد الله الثاني بن الحسين, al-Malik ʿAbdullāh aṯ-ṯānī bin al-Ḥusayn; born 30 January 1962) is the reigning King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He ascended the throne on 7 February 1999 upon the death of his father King Hussein. King Abdullah, whose mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, is a member of the Hashemite family. Since 1993, Abdullah has been married to Queen Rania of Jordan.
Abdullah was born in Amman to King Hussein of Jordan during his marriage to British-born Princess Muna al-Hussein (born Antoinette Avril Gardiner). He was the king's eldest son 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.
King Abdullah II attended St Edmund's School, Hindhead, Surrey, before moving on to Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1980, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, and served as a troop commander in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars. In 1982, King Abdullah II attended Pembroke College at Oxford University where he completed a one-year Special Studies course in Middle Eastern Affairs. In 1987, he attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Abdullah would later serve in the Jordanian forces and became Major General in May 1998.
In the 1980s, King Hussein considered arranging for 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 named Abdullah as his heir. On 8 April 2012 Sheikh Nazim declared Abdullah to be Caliph ordering his followers to give allegience to him.
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 constitutions and replacing Hussein's brother Hassan, who had served many years in the position (nearly 34 years, from 1965 to 1999). It is claimed that he is the 43rd-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad. He is the namesake of King Abdullah I, his great grandfather who founded modern Jordan.
Politics as King
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.
Jordan's economy has relatively 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. 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 U.S. and the first with an Arab country.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. 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."
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. 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.
- 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 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. On 2 July 2009, Abdullah indeed named Prince Hussein as heir-apparent.
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." 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 2011, a new prime minister was appointed. In June 2011 the King has announced a move to a British style of Cabinet Government but it is still under debate.
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. 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 access to drinking water.)
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. 
Marriage and children
King Abdullah is married to Rania al-Abdullah. They have four children:
- 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)
King Abdullah has many interests. He has a love and passion for sky diving, rally racing, scuba diving and science fiction. 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". 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.
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 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.
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. A Star Trek theme park will open in 2014 as part of the $1.5-billion Red Sea Astrarium 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 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."
—King Abdullah II
Honours and awards
- This article incorporates information from the Italian Wikipedia.
- Grand Master of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali
- Grand Master of the Supreme Order of the Renaissance
- Grand Master of the Order of the Star of Jordan
- Grand Master of the Order of Independence
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (2001)
- Collar of the Order of the Crown Royal family of Brunei (Brunei, 13 May 2008)
- Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (Japan, 1999)
- Knight Grand Cross with Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (9 February 2001)
- Medal for the tenth anniversary of the capital Astana (Kazakhstan)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav (Norway, 2001)
- Grand Collar of the Order of Prince Henry (Portugal, 5 March 2008)
- Collar of the Order of the Star of Romania (2005)
- Collar of the Order of Isabel the Catholic (Spain) (1999)
- Knight of the Order of the Seraphim (Sweden, 7 October 2003)
- Order of Merit, 1st class (Ukraine)
- Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 1st class (Ukraine)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (United Kingdom)
- Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (United Kingdom)
- Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
- Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1st class with the United Kollam
- al-Hussein, Abdullah II bin. Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, New York City: Viking Adult, 2011. ISBN 978-0-670-02171-0
- Robins, Philip. A History of Jordan, Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-521-59895-8
- Kingabdullah.jo (2006), His Majesty King Abdullah II: King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Royal Hashemite Court. Retrieved on 14 December 2007
- Robins, 193.
- "His Majesty King Abdullah II is the 43rd generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad". Jordanembassy.ro. http://web.archive.org/web/20091003002939/http://www.jordanembassy.ro/his_majesty_king_abdullah_ii_is_.htm. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- Robins, 196.
- "Welcome to The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre". Rissc.jo. 1 September 2010. http://www.rissc.jo/. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
- 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.
- Trade and Investment, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. Retrieved 22 July 2008.
- White House Office of the Press Secretary (28 September 2001), Overview: U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
- Hussein, Mohammad Ben. King opens Parliament today, Jordan Times, 28 November 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- "Jordan jails outspoken dissident", BBC News, 16 May 2002. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- Israeli general in Jordan apology, BBC News, 23 February 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- "Olmert apologises to King, Jordan for general's remarks". Jordanembassyus.org. 24 February 2006. http://www.jordanembassyus.org/02242006001.htm. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- "Israeli general in Jordan apology". BBC News. 23 February 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4743244.stm. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- Jordan irked by Olmert remarks on Iraq pullout, Khaleej Times, 19 March 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- Defense Industry Daily (14 February 2007). "Jordan Buys 20 F-16 MLU from Holland, Belgium (updated)". Watershed Publishing. http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/jordan-buys-20-f16-mlu-from-holland-belgium-updated-02176/. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
- "FV4030/4 Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank". Inetres.com. 11 July 2006. http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/cv/tank/Challenger1.html. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- Jordan crown prince loses title, BBC News, 29 November 2004. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- Prince Hussein named Crown Prince, Jordan Times, 3 July 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- Jordan edging towards democracy, BBC News, 27 January 2005. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- Eldar, Akiva. King Abdullah to Haaretz: Jordan aims to develop nuclear power, Haaretz, 20 January 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
- "JORDAN: Water shortage remains a constant headache". Irinnews.org. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. http://www.irinnews.org/InDepthMain.aspx?InDepthId=13&ReportId=61829&Country=Yes. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- "Jordan: The Royal Tour" at imdb
- Paradise Post newspaper article published 15 July 2010
- "The King of Star Trek". BBC News. 11 February 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/277584.stm. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- Levy, Glen (3 August 2011). "Captain Kirk's Coaster: 'Star Trek' Theme Park Coming to Jordan". Time (magazine). http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/08/03/captain-kirks-coaster-star-trek-theme-park-coming-to-jordan/. 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."
- Jordan Signs Agreement With USC To Create Middle East Cinema Institute.
- "Blogging | King Abdullah II comments on Jordan’s Black Iris blog and Addusstor". Arab Crunch. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. http://arabcrunch.com/2008/07/king-abdullah-ii-comment-on-jordans-black-iris-blog-and-addusstor.html. Retrieved 29 September 2010.