|Birth Day:||January 30, 1962|
|Birth Place:||Amman, Jordan|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
King of Jordan who ascended to the throne in 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein, who ruled his country for nearly fifty years. He has notably liberalized his country's media and has made it illegal to detain journalists.
He reached the rank of Major General in the Jordanian army after attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Abdullah was born on 30 January 1962 in Amman, to King Hussein and Hussein's British-born second wife, Princess Muna Al-Hussein (born Antoinette Avril Gardiner). He is the namesake of his paternal great-grandfather, Abdullah I, who founded modern Jordan. Abdullah's dynasty, the Hashemites, ruled Mecca for over 700 years—from the 10th century until the House of Saud conquered Mecca in 1925—and have ruled Jordan since 1921. The Hashemites are the oldest ruling dynasty in the Muslim world. According to family tradition, Abdullah is the 41st-generation agnatic descendant of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah and her husband, Ali, the fourth Rashidun caliph.
As Hussein's eldest son, Abdullah became heir apparent to the Jordanian throne under the 1952 constitution. Due to political instability, King Hussein thought it wise to appoint an adult heir instead, choosing Abdullah's uncle Prince Hassan in 1965. Abdullah began his schooling in 1966 at the Islamic Educational College in Amman, and continued at St Edmund's School in England. He attended high school at Eaglebrook School and Deerfield Academy in the United States of America.
He began his military career at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1980, while he was a training officer in the Jordanian Armed Forces. After Sandhurst, Abdullah was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army and served a year in Britain and West Germany as a troop commander in the 13th/18th Royal Hussars.
Abdullah was admitted to Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1982, where he completed a one-year special-studies course in Middle Eastern affairs. He joined the Royal Jordanian Army on his return home, serving as first lieutenant and then as platoon commander and assistant commander of a company in the 40th Armored Brigade. Abdullah took a free-fall parachuting course in Jordan, and in 1985 he took the Armored Officer's Advanced Course at Fort Knox. He became commander of a tank company in the 91st Armored Brigade, with the rank of captain. Abdullah also served with the Royal Jordanian Air Force's anti-tank helicopter wing, receiving training to fly Cobra attack-helicopters.
The prince then attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1987, undertaking advanced study and research in international affairs. He returned home to serve as assistant commander of the 17th Royal Tank Battalion in 1989, later being promoted to major. Abdullah attended a staff course at the British Staff College in 1990, and served the following year in the Office of the Inspector General of the Jordanian Armed Forces as the Armored Corps representative. He commanded a battalion in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1992 and was promoted to colonel the following year, commanding the 40th Brigade.
Abdullah joined his father on a number of missions, including meetings abroad with Soviet and American leaders. He was occasionally King Hussein's regent during the 1990s but this duty was mainly performed by Hussein's younger brother, Crown Prince Hassan. Abdullah led his father's delegation to Moscow for talks in 1987. He frequently visited the Pentagon in Washington, where he lobbied for increased military assistance to Jordan. The prince joined his father on trips to visit Hafez Al-Assad in Damascus and Saddam Hussein in Baghdad (before the 1990 Gulf War). Abdullah commanded military exercises during Israeli military officials' visits to Jordan in 1997, and was sent to hand-deliver a message to Muammar Gaddafi in 1998.
King Hussein frequently traveled to the United States for medical treatment after his diagnosis with cancer in 1992. After Hussein returned from a six-month medical absence from Jordan in late 1998, he criticized his brother Hassan's management of Jordanian affairs in a public letter, accusing him of abusing his constitutional powers as regent. On 24 January 1999, two weeks before his death, Hussein surprised everyone—including Abdullah who thought he would spend his life in the military—by replacing Hassan with his son as heir apparent.
Abdullah met Rania Al-Yassin, a marketing employee at Apple Inc. in Amman, at a dinner organized by his sister Princess Aisha in January 1993. They became engaged two months later, and their marriage took place in June.
In 1994 Abdullah assumed command of Jordan's Special Forces and of other elite units as a brigadier general, restructuring them into the Joint Special Operations Command two years later. He became a major general, attended a course in defence-resources management at the American Naval Postgraduate School and commanded an elite special-forces manhunt in the pursuit of outlaws in 1998. The operation reportedly ended successfully, with his name chanted on the streets of Amman.
Abdullah has listed skydiving, motorcycling, water sports, and collecting ancient weapons as his interests and hobbies, and is a fan of the science-fiction series Star Trek. In 1996 he appeared briefly in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Investigations", in a non-speaking role.
The king died of complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on 7 February 1999. His 47-year reign extended through four turbulent decades of the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Cold War. Several hours after the announcement of his father's death, Abdullah appeared at an emergency session of the Jordanian parliament. Hussein's two brothers, Hassan and Mohammed, walked ahead of him as he entered the assembly. In Arabic, he swore the oath taken by his father almost fifty years earlier: "I swear by Almighty God to uphold the constitution and to be faithful to the nation". Speaker of the Senate Zaid Al-Rifai opened the session with Al-Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Quran), his voice cracking with emotion as he led the recitation. "God, save His Majesty... God, give him advice and take care of him." Abdullah's investiture took place on 9 June 1999. A reception at Raghadan Palace attended by 800 dignitaries followed a motorcade ride through Amman by the 37-year-old king and his 29-year-old wife, Rania—the then youngest queen in the world.
Abdullah cracked down on the Hamas presence in Jordan in November 1999 after pleas from the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The crackdown occurred during peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The king exiled four Hamas officials to Qatar and barred the group from political activity, closing their offices in Amman. The peace talks collapsed into a violent Palestinian uprising, the Second Intifada, in September 2000. As a result, Jordan faced dwindling tourism; tourism is an economic cornerstone of Jordan, a country with few natural resources. Abdullah reportedly spearheaded efforts to defuse the political violence.
When Abdullah ascended to the throne as Jordan's fourth king, observers doubted his ability to manage the country's economic crisis—a legacy of the 1990 Gulf War. The king maintained his father's moderate pro-Western policy, supporting the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty, and the royal transition prompted the United States and Arab states of the Persian Gulf to increase their aid. In the early years of Abdullah's reign, which then ruled over a population of 4.5 million, it was reported that he frequently went undercover to see Jordan's challenges firsthand. In 2000 he said about his incognito visits to government institutions, "The bureaucrats are terrified. It's great."
On 23 June 2000, while vacationing in the Greek Islands, Abdullah received a phone call from the director of mukhabarat (the country's Intelligence Directorate) warning of an assassination attempt against him by Al-Qaeda. The plot was to target Abdullah and his family's rented yacht with explosives.
Abdullah negotiated a free-trade agreement with the United States, the third free-trade agreement for the US and its first with an Arab country. Under the agreement, Jordanian exports to the United States increased from $63 million in 2000 to over $1.4 billion in 2015. Jordan's foreign debt-to-GDP ratio fell from more than 210 percent in 1990 to 83 percent by the end of 2005, a decrease called an "extraordinary achievement" by the International Monetary Fund. Abdullah's efforts have made Jordan the freest Arab economy and the ninth-freest economy in the world, according to a 2014 study by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty.
The September 11 attacks in 2001 on American targets were fiercely condemned by Abdullah. Jordan responded quickly to American requests for assistance, enacting counterterrorism legislation and maintaining a high level of vigilance. The country's mukhabarat foiled similar plots the following year against Western targets, including the American and British embassies in Lebanon.
With the George W. Bush administration planning an attack on Iraq, accusing Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction, Abdullah opposed American intervention. "A strike on Iraq will be disastrous for Iraq and the region as a whole and will threaten the security and stability of the Middle East", he warned during American vice president Dick Cheney's 2002 visit to the Middle East. In March 2003, during a meeting with George W. Bush at the White House, Abdullah tried to dissuade the president from invading Iraq. During the 1990 Gulf War, King Hussein's wariness of war was seen as siding with Saddam Hussein, which alienated Jordan from its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf region and the Western world; his stance precipitated an economic crisis triggered by the suspension of foreign aid and investment to Jordan. Failing to persuade Bush, Abdullah broke with domestic opposition. He allowed American Patriot batteries to be stationed in the Jordanian desert along its border with Iraq, but did not allow coalition troops to launch an invasion from Jordan. Jordan had received subsidized oil from Saddam Hussein's Iraq at a savings of about $500 million per year, equal to American aid to Jordan at the time.
The 2003 Jordanian general election was the first parliamentary election under Abdullah's rule. Although the election was supposed to be held in 2001, it was postponed by the king due to regional political instability in accordance with the Jordanian constitution (which authorizes the monarch to postpone an election for a maximum of two years). His postponement was criticized by the largest Islamist opposition party in the country, the Islamic Action Front (the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood), who accused Abdullah of impeding the democratic process. He inherited a controversial single non-transferable vote electoral system, implemented by his father in 1991, which hobbled Islamic political parties after they obtained 22 of 80 seats in the 1989 elections. Abdullah issued a royal decree before the election, introducing an amendment to the election law giving women a six-seat quota in Parliament.
In 2004, Abdullah coined the term "Shia Crescent" to describe a Shia-dominated region from Damascus to Tehran (bypassing Baghdad) which promoted sectarian politics. His warning received international attention, leading Abdullah to clarify that he meant a shift in political (not sectarian) alignment. The king's observation was validated after the rise of Shia Nouri Al-Maliki to the Iraqi government in 2006 and subsequent events.
In response to Islamophobic rhetoric after 11 September attacks, Abdullah issued the Amman Message in November 2004. The Message is a detailed statement which encouraged Muslim scholars of all sects from around the world to denounce terrorism, practice religious tolerance and represent the true nature of the Muslim faith. The statement was adopted unanimously in a conference hosted by Abdullah in Amman in 2005 by 200 leading Islamic scholars. The Message stressed three points: the validity of all eight schools of Islam, the forbidding of takfir (declaration of apostasy) and standards for the issuance of fatwas. The Islamic religious consensus was unprecedented in contemporary times. Abdullah presented the Message in 2010 to the United Nations General Assembly, where he proposed a World Interfaith Harmony Week. The initiative was adopted, and is an annual celebration during the first week of February to promote peace and harmony among people of different faiths. Abdullah also established an award, based on this initiative, for interfaith dialogue.
On 28 November 2004 Abdullah removed the title of crown prince from his half-brother, Prince Hamzah, whom he had appointed on 7 February 1999 in accordance with their father's advice. In a letter to Hamzah read on Jordanian state television, Abdullah 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." Although no successor to the title was named at that time, the king was expected to appoint his son and heir apparent, Prince Hussein, crown prince. Hussein received the title on 2 July 2009.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq founder Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Amman on 9 November 2005. It was the deadliest attack in Jordan's history; suicide bombers targeted three hotels, one of which was hosting a wedding. The attack killed 60 people and injured 115. Prior to the attack, Al-Zarqawi had threatened: "What is coming is more vicious and bitter". In 2006, Al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike with the aid of Jordanian intelligence agents. Abdullah and Jordan are viewed with contempt by Islamic extremists for the country's peace treaty with Israel and its relationship with the West. Jordan's security was tightened, and no major terrorist attacks have been reported in the country since then.
Abdullah was criticized during his early years for focusing on economic, rather than political reform. A committee was formed in February 2005 to formulate a blueprint for political reform in the country for the next decade. This National Agenda, finalized about nine months later, was never implemented. It included incorporating proportional representation into general elections, improving the judicial branch and respect for human rights, and tackling issues related to employment, welfare, education and infrastructure. The Agenda was reportedly never implemented due to conservative opposition. After the Arab Spring, a new election law in 2012 was enacted and used in the 2013 elections. It incorporated elements of proportional representation, and 27 of the 150 House of Representatives members could be elected accordingly. A number of political reforms were undertaken to curtail some of the king's powers, including amending about one-third of the constitution, establishing a constitutional court and the Independent Election Commission and improvements to laws governing human rights and freedom of speech and assembly.
The king promotes tourism in Jordan, and was a tour guide for Discovery Channel travel host Peter Greenberg on Jordan: The Royal Tour. In the program, Abdullah said that he is no longer permitted to skydive since he became king. He reportedly motorcycled through northern California on a Harley-Davidson. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, one of Abdullah's brothers and president of the Jordan Football Association, has said that the king is the Jordan national football team's biggest fan. His interest in the film industry influenced his decision to create the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in the Red Sea coastal town of Aqaba on 20 September 2006, in partnership with the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. When the producers of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen decided to film in Jordan, Abdullah called on military helicopters to help transport equipment into Petra. In 2016, the king honored the cast of Theeb, the first Jordanian film nominated for an Oscar.
Russian president Vladimir Putin visited Jordan for the first time in February 2007 and was welcomed by Abdullah. The leaders discussed prospects for the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, Iran's nuclear program and violence in Iraq.
Abdullah established King's Academy near Madaba, the Middle East's first boarding school, in 2007 in appreciation of the education he received at Deerfield Academy. He hired Deerfield headmaster Eric Widmer to oversee the school, which has students from throughout the region.
In 2007, it was reported that Jordan hosted 800,000 Iraqi refugees who fled the insurgency following the American invasion; most have returned to Iraq. The 2007 Jordanian general election was held in November, with secular opposition groups accusing the government of using rising Islamism as an excuse for "autocratic rule". In 2008, Abdullah became the first Arab head of state to visit Iraq after the 2003 American invasion. The visit was amid Sunni Arab concerns of growing Iranian influence in Iraq.
In 2007, Abdullah said that Jordan intends to benefit from its large uranium reserves by building nuclear reactors to generate electricity; the country is one of the few non-petroleum-producing nations in the region. Early on, in a 2010 interview, Abdullah accused Israel of trying to disrupt Jordan's nuclear program. Abdullah inaugurated Jordan's first nuclear facility in 2016. The Jordan Research and Training Reactor, in the Jordan University of Science and Technology near Ar Ramtha, aims to train Jordanian students in the school's nuclear-engineering program. In 2018, the country's Atomic Energy Commission announced that Jordan was in talks with multiple companies to build the first commercial nuclear plant, a Helium-cooled reactor that is scheduled for completion in 2025.
Jordan was dependent on subsidized Iraqi oil for its energy. The 2003 American invasion of Iraq halted the petroleum supply and drove Jordan to begin importing gas from Egypt in 2009. Insurgency in Sinai began when the Arab Spring spread to Egypt, where the Arab Gas Pipeline runs. Since 2011 the pipeline has been attacked over 30 times by ISIL's Sinai affiliates, and the pipeline was effectively closed in 2014. Jordan incurred $6 billion in losses. The Great Recession and regional turmoil triggered by the Arab Spring during the 2010s hobbled the Jordanian economy, making it increasingly reliant on foreign aid. The shocks hit Jordan's tourism sector (a cornerstone of the country's economy) hardest, and tourist arrivals have fallen by over 66 percent since 2011. However, in 2017, tourism started to pick up again. Growth of the Jordanian economy slowed to an annual average rate of 2.8 percent between 2010 and 2016—down from an average of 8% in previous years—insufficient to accommodate the exponential growth of the population.
The Tunisian Revolution in December 2010 (which unseated that country's president) brought Egyptians into the streets, and by January 2011 they overthrew president Hosni Mubarak. Protests in other Arab countries soon followed, resulting in civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen. In Jordan, opposition groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, leftists, and retired army generals protested throughout the country. By 1 February 2011, domestic unrest prompted Abdullah to sack Samir Rifai's government and pledge to follow a democratic trajectory.
The 2011–12 Jordanian protests were driven by complaints about a troubled economy: soaring prices, widespread unemployment and a relatively low standard of living. Although some called for an end to the monarchy, most protesters' anger was directed at politicians viewed as undemocratic, corrupt and unaccountable. Demonstrators called for the dissolution of the parliament which had been elected three months earlier in November 2010, when pro-regime figures won a majority of seats. The Jordanian monarchy was the first Arab regime to offer political concessions during the Arab Spring. Marouf Bakhit was appointed prime minister, but protests continued throughout the summer; Bakhit was seen as a conservative unlikely to push for reform. Dissatisfied with the pace of reform, Abdullah sacked Bakhit's government and appointed Awn Khasawneh to form a cabinet. Khasawneh abruptly resigned in April 2012, and the King appointed Fayez Tarawneh as interim prime minister; it was the third government reshuffle in 18 months.
Abdullah published his autobiography, Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril, in 2010. He documents the first decade of his rule in a manner similar to his father's 1962 book, Uneasy Lies the Head. Abdullah's book contains insights into his childhood and behind-the-scenes accounts of encounters with political figures.
The March 2011 outbreak of the Syrian Civil War forced masses of refugees across Jordan's border with Syria—about 3,000 refugees per day in the war's early stages. When asked about the Syrian conflict in an interview with the BBC in November 2011, Abdullah said that he would resign if he was in Bashar Al-Assad's shoes. "Whenever you exert violence on your own people, it’s never going to end well and so as far as I’m concerned, yes, there will be an expiration date, but again it is almost impossible for anybody to predict whether that is six weeks, six months or six years."
In November 2012 the government cut fuel subsidies, driving up prices. The decision, later revoked, triggered large-scale protests across the country. The regime calmed the unrest by introducing reforms, amending about one-third of the constitution and establishing a Constitutional Court and the Independent Election Commission. Abdullah called for an early election and appointed Abdullah Ensour to form a cabinet. In the January 2013 election, pro-regime figures were victorious as opposition groups continued a boycott. Since December 2012, the king has published seven discussion papers outlining his vision of democracy and reform in Jordan.
In December 2012, Abdullah was the first head of state to visit the West Bank after a United Nations General Assembly vote upgraded the Palestinian Authority to a nonmember observer state. Jordan sees an independent Palestinian state, with the 1967 borders, as part of the two-state solution and of supreme national interest. Jordan, the only country bordering the West Bank other than Israel, ruled it after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and lost in the 1967 Six-Day War. Its annexation of the West Bank was not recognized, and in 1988 the kingdom ceded its claim to the territory.
Jordan's total foreign debt in 2012 was $22 billion, 72 percent of its GDP. In 2016 the debt reached $35.1 billion, 95 percent of the country's GDP. The increase was attributed to regional challenges, which decreased tourist activity and foreign investment and increased military spending; attacks on the Egyptian pipeline; the collapse of trade with Iraq and Syria; the expense of hosting Syrian refugees, and accumulated loan interest. According to the World Bank, Syrian refugees cost Jordan more than $2.5 billion a year (six percent of its GDP and 25 percent of the government's annual revenue). Foreign aid covers only a portion of these costs, 63 percent of which are borne by Jordan. An austerity program was adopted by the government which aims to reduce Jordan's debt-to-GDP ratio to 77 percent by 2021.
An interview with Abdullah by Jeffrey Goldberg, published in The Atlantic in March 2013, sparked controversy when the king criticized local and international figures and parties. He called the Muslim Brotherhood a "Masonic cult" and "wolves in sheep's clothing", described ousted Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi as a man with "no depth" and said that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw democracy as "a bus ride". Abdullah also criticized American diplomats, some of his country's tribal leaders and members of his family.
Another 2013 article in The Atlantic advised him to address governmental corruption, saying that there "is a growing perception that the degeneracy reaches the palace". According to the article, Abdullah was accused of "illegally appropriating 'tribal' lands" shortly after his accession and members of 36 Jordanian tribes issued a statement denouncing Queen Rania's "publicized and extravagant" 40th birthday party in 2013.
Abdullah also enjoys stand-up comedy. When Gabriel Iglesias, Russell Peters and a number of other stand-up comedians visited Jordan for a 2009 comedy festival, the king invited them over for dinner. In 2013, a video of Abdullah helping push a car stuck in snow in Amman during the 2013 Middle East cold snap went viral. In 2017, another amateur video that went viral showed Abdullah wearing pyjamas helping in extinguishing a fire in a wood near the royal palace.
About the unrest in Iraq, Abdullah told a delegation of US congressmen in June 2014 about his fear that the turmoil would spill across the entire region. He said that any solution to the problems in the war-torn countries must involve all the people of Iraq and Syria. Jordan began erecting barriers along its arid 175-kilometre (109 mi) border with Iraq and 379-kilometre (235 mi) border with Syria. Since then, hundreds of infiltration attempts have been foiled by Jordanian border guards who were also occupied with the flow of refugees. Jordan was involved in the CIA-led Timber Sycamore covert operation to train and arm Syrian rebels.
In April 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaeda affiliate which emerged in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities, posted an online video which threatened to invade the kingdom and slaughter Abdullah (whom they saw as an enemy of Islam). "I have a message to the tyrant of Jordan: we are coming to you with death and explosive belts", an ISIL fighter said as he destroyed a Jordanian passport. In August 2014, thousands of Iraqi Christians fled ISIL and sought shelter in Jordanian churches.
Shortly after Jordan joined the international coalition against ISIL in mid-September 2014, the country's security apparatus foiled a terror plot targeting civilians in Jordan. Shortly afterwards, Abdullah said in an interview that the country's borders with Iraq and Syria were "extremely safe". In late December 2014, a Jordanian F-16 fighter jet crashed near Raqqa, Syria, during a mission. A video was posted online on 3 February 2015, showing captured Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh being burned to death in a cage; throughout January, Jordan had negotiated for Al-Kasasbeh's release. The terrorist group reportedly demanded the release of Sajida Al-Rishawi in return, a suicide bomber whose belt failed to detonate in the 2005 Amman bombings. Al-Kasasbeh's killing spurred outrage in the country, while the King was away in a state visit to the United States. Before returning to Jordan, Abdullah swiftly ratified death sentences previously handed down to two imprisoned Iraqi jihadists, Sajida Al-Rishawi and Ziad Al-Karbouly, who were executed before dawn of the next day. The same evening, Abdullah was welcomed in Amman by cheering crowds who lined along the airport road to express their support. His decision also garnered international support. As commander-in-chief, Abdullah launched Operation Martyr Muath, a series of airstrikes against ISIL targets during the following week targeting weapons caches, training camps and oil-extraction facilities. His retaliation was praised on the Internet, where he was dubbed "The Warrior King". Rumors had circulated that he personally led the sorties.
In 2014 and 2016, several constitutional amendments sparked controversy despite their overwhelming approval by senators and representatives. The amendments gave the king sole authority to appoint his crown prince, deputy, the chief and members of the constitutional court, the heads of the military and paramilitary forces and the country's General Intelligence Director. Proponents said that the amendments solidified the separation of powers, while critics claimed they were unconstitutional.
In 2014 a declaration of intent was signed by Jordan's national electrical company and Noble Energy to import gas from Israel's offshore Leviathan gas field, a 15-year deal estimated at $10 billion. The move provoked outrage in Jordan; opponents, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, said that the agreement favored Israel and its occupation of the West Bank and accused the government of ignoring renewable-energy options. The agreement, effective in 2019, was signed in September 2016. Separately, Abdullah opened a liquefied natural gas port in Aqaba in 2015, allowing Jordan to import LNG. LNG-generated electricity saves Jordan about $1 million a day, and is reportedly better for the environment.
In 2014, Abdullah received Pope Francis in Jordan, the third papal visit of his reign. The king, Queen Rania and Prince Ghazi accompanied the pope to Al-Maghtas, the site of Jesus' baptism, on the east bank of the Jordan River.
The November 2016 Jordanian general election was the first election since 1989 primarily using a form of proportional representation; intervening elections had used the single non-transferable vote system. Reforms encouraged opposition parties, including the Islamic Action Front (who had boycotted previous elections, including 2010 and 2013), to participate. The election was considered fair and transparent by independent international observers. Proportional representation is seen as the first step toward establishing parliamentary governments in which parliamentary blocs, instead of the king, choose the prime minister. However, the underdevelopment of political parties in Jordan have slowed down such moves.
King Abdullah proposed significant economic reforms to the country during the first decade of his reign. Jordan, a relatively-small, semi-arid, almost-landlocked country, has one of the smallest economies in the region; its GDP was about $39 billion in 2016. Insufficient natural resources, especially in water and oil (unlike its neighbors) have given the kingdom chronic government debt, unemployment and poverty which led to a dependence on foreign aid from its Western and Arab allies in the Persian Gulf region. Jordan embarked on an aggressive economic liberalization program when Abdullah was crowned in an effort to stimulate the economy and raise the standard of living, and its economy has improved under his reign. He has been credited with attracting foreign investment, improving public-private partnerships and providing the foundation for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and Jordan's flourishing information and communications technology (ICT) sector. Abdullah 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 doubled (to 8% annually) between 2004 and 2008 compared with the latter half of the 1990s. It also led to a steady increase in foreign investment by the West and the Persian Gulf countries.
Reforms introduced in the 2016 general election led Freedom House, a US-funded non-governmental organization, to upgrade Jordan to "partly free" from "not free" in its Freedom in the World 2017 report. According to the report, Jordan became the third most free Arab country, and that the change was "due to electoral law changes that led to somewhat fairer parliamentary elections."
In September 2016, Abdullah formed a royal committee to make recommendations which would improve the country's judiciary. The committee finalized its report, which revolved around strengthening judicial independence and improving criminal justice, in February 2017. The Parliament approved the recommendations which included increased protection for women against violence and better trial procedures. A new law for people with disabilities was also enacted. Human Rights Watch praised the reforms.
In 2016, it was announced that Abdullah would fund the restoration of the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Royal Hashemite Court informed Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem of the makruma (royal benefaction) in a 10 April 2016 letter. The tomb had been untouched since 1947, when the British installed steel support beams as part of a restoration project which never took place. It was reopened to the public on 22 March 2017 after the renovation. On 2 August 2017, Abdullah donated $1.4 million to the Jerusalem Waqf, the body that belongs to Jordan and is responsible for administering Al-Aqsa mosque. An independent report estimates the total amount that the Hashemites have spent since 1924 on administering and renovating Al Aqsa as over $1 billion.
After Donald Trump's inauguration as United States president on 20 January 2017, Abdullah traveled to the US on an official visit. He was worried about the new administration's positions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, specifically, issues relating to Israeli settlements. Abdullah met Trump briefly at the National Prayer Breakfast on 2 February, and reportedly convinced him to change his policy towards Israeli settlements. This was substantiated by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who said two days later that the expansion of Israeli settlements may not be helpful in achieving peace. According to The New York Times, the "encounter put the king, one of the most respected leaders of the Arab world, ahead of Mr. Netanyahu in seeing the new president." Senator Bob Corker confirmed Abdullah's influence in an interview: "We call him the Henry Kissinger of that part of the world and we do always love to listen to his view of the region." Abdullah criticized United States' decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On 15 August 2017, local elections were held for municipal councils, local councils, and governorate councils, which were added by a new decentralization law. The law intends to cede some central-government power to elected councils, increasing citizen participation in municipal decision-making. In a 15 August 2016 interview, Abdullah described the new decentralization law as "a very important link in the chain of reforms".
The country has 330 days of sunshine per year, and wind speeds exceed 7 m/s in mountainous areas. During the 2010s, Abdullah inaugurated the 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm and the 53 MW Shams Ma'an Power Plant. In May 2017, it was announced that more than 200 MW of solar energy projects had been completed. After having initially set the percentage of renewable energy Jordan aimed to generate by 2020 at 10%, the government announced in 2018 that it sought to beat that figure and aim for 20%. A report by pv magazine described Jordan as the "Middle East’s solar powerhouse".
Abdullah led The 500 Most Influential Muslims' 2016 list, published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, and is third on its 2018 list. Queen Rania was 35th on the 2016 list.
Leaders of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre sent out a letter of support to Abdullah on 1 March 2018 after Israel shelved a proposed bill that aimed to propose new tax measures to churches in the West Bank. "Your defence of religious freedom and Your leadership, in ensuring that the Status Quo is respected and maintained, has been crucial in our ongoing attempts to guard and protect the Christian presence especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem", the letter read.
Abdullah has four children with his wife, Queen Rania of Jordan, whom he married in 1993.
|#1||Prince Hamzah bin Hussein||Brother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Prince Hashim bin Hussein||Brother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#3||Faisal bin Hussein||Brother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#4||Ali bin Hussein||Brother||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||45||Politician|
|#5||Princess Salma bint Abdullah||Daughter||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#6||Princess Iman bint Abdullah||Daughter||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#7||Hussein of Jordan||Father||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#8||Abdullah I of Jordan||Great-grandfather||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#9||Princess Muna al-Hussein||Mother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#10||Haya bint Hussein||Sister||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||46||Prince|
|#11||Hussein, Crown Prince of Jordan||Son||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#12||Queen Rania of Jordan||Spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||50||Queen|
|#13||Prince Hashem bin Abdullah||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Currently, Abdullah II is 59 years, 10 months and 7 days old. Abdullah II will celebrate 60th birthday on a Sunday 30th of January 2022. Below we countdown to Abdullah II upcoming birthday.
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King Abdullah II of Jordan, 56th birthday Stock Photos (Exclusive) | Shutterstock
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King receives cables on his 51st birthday | King Abdullah II Official Website
His Majesty King Abdullah received a number of cables from Arab and foreign leaders, congratulating him on his 51st birthday, which falls on January 30.His Majesty received cables from Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Cables also came from Russian President Vladimir Putin and top official of Arab and foreign
Press Room | King Abdullah II Official Website
Official Website of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with his vision, news, speeches, initiatives, photo gallery & social media activities.
King receives cables on his 48th birthday | King Abdullah II Official Website
His Majesty King Abdullah on Friday received cables from leaders of several Arab and foreign countries on the occasion of his 48th birthday. The congratulatory cables also came in from Prime Minister Samir Rifai, Senate President Taher Masri, chief of the Judicial Council, chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, directors of General Intelligence, Public Security, Civil Defence