Is Jordan a developed country

The modern face of the Arab world

According to "Twitter", Queen Rania of Jordan is one of the most popular people in the Arab world. 1.3 million "followers" are recorded on the Internet platform. No wonder: the Jordanian queen is considered cosmopolitan, natural and extraordinarily beautiful. But simply to represent the Jordanian state - the First Lady is not satisfied with that.

The committed wife of King Abdullah II is constantly on the move to promote projects aimed at improving the living conditions of the Jordanian population. Whether in the social field or in environmental protection, Rania supports numerous initiatives and is their patron. Above all, she takes care of the issues of upbringing and further training for the disadvantaged, and that includes women in the Arab world.

Queen, career, kids

The daughter of Palestinian refugees, Rania was born in Kuwait in 1970. The business administration graduate speaks perfect English and married the eldest son of the Jordanian King Hussein II in June 1993, with whom she has four children. The then Prince Abdullah bin Al-Hussein was making a career in the Jordanian army at that time and was not intended as heir to the throne. His seriously ill father surprisingly appointed him crown prince in place of his uncle just a few days before his death. As Abdullah II, he succeeded his father on February 7, 1999 as the fourth Jordanian king. But this did not automatically make Rania Queen of Jordan. This only required a proclamation by her husband a few weeks later. Rania is the only queen in the Arab world. The wives of the King of Morocco or the King of Bahrain, for example, have to be content with the title of princess.

Socially committed and style icon

In other ways, too, Rania is different from most first ladies in the Middle East. In the Orient as in the Occident, she is regarded as a style icon who is compared to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Michelle Obama and a whole series of European royals and is one of the most popular celebrities of the tabloids. The magazine "Bunte" dedicated a multi-page special to her in one of its latest issues.

Queen Rania is a welcome guest not only in the Arab world, but also in Europe and the USA

But Rania is much more than a fashion accessory for King Abdullah. She is one of a number of ruling wives in the Arab world who, like her sister-in-law Princess Haya of Jordan, meanwhile wife of the Emir of Dubai, or Sheikha Mona of Qatar, are promoting social reforms in their homeland and helping to create a new Arab image of women arises. She actively campaigns for more women's rights, appears without a veil and is involved in public for social issues.

Woman but not a feminist

Their influence on King Abdullah, who sees himself as a reformer and modernizer based on the Western model, is not only met with approval. Islamist circles in particular react negatively to Rania. However, this criticism is cautious with regard to her position as queen. This gives Rania - like other female members of Arab rulers - the opportunity to address sensitive issues in societies that are often still very patriarchal: for example, so-called honor killings or violence against children.

Despite her commitment, Rania is not a feminist. As the queen of an Arab and Islamic country, she is too firmly anchored in her culture and traditions. Her self-description is therefore that she is "a mother, a wife, a boss, an advocate and a benefactress". No wonder that left-wing Arab circles once mocked them as a mere jewel of the Jordanian monarch. Their support remains crucial for their success, especially when it comes to explosive issues. After all, King Abdullah is not only the Jordanian head of state endowed with great power, but also the religious head of the Jordanian Muslims, which is underpinned by his family descent from the family of the Prophet Mohammed.

Arabic with a heart

At the "Bambi" ceremony in November 2007: Queen Rania receives the honorary award for her services

Rania is more Arab than her husband. Abdullah's mother, Princess Muna Al-Hussein, was born Antoinette Avril Gardiner in England. Some say that the Jordanian king, who was trained at the military academy in Sandhurst, UK, speaks better English than Arabic. This means that Abdullah, whose family only came to Jordan from Mecca in 1921, is half a European - in contrast to his wife, who belongs to the majority of Palestinians in the country, in which the Arab Jordanians hold key positions in government and administration.

Occasionally Rania appears as a propagandist for the "Arab cause", for example during the Gaza war in winter 2008/2009. In addition to her office as queen, her social and representative activities, Rania has also written books, more precisely children's books, some with worldwide success. But even here politics is not far off with a Jordanian queen. As long as there is no solution to the Palestine conflict, it has banned a translation into Hebrew. Just like King Abdullah, Rania sees only one future for Jordan as a modern, innovative and developed country. It advertises this in Jordan as well as abroad - and thus stands for the modern face of the Arab world.

Authors: Anne Allmeling / Johannes Krug
Editor: Diana Hodali