Queen Rania the mother, and the activist

Rania Yasin was born on August 31, 1970, in Kuwait from Palestinian origins. As the daughter of an MD, she received a thoroughly Western education, first at the New English School in Kuwait City, then at the American University in Cairo, where she graduated with a degree in business.

In 1991, she moved to Amman, where her parents had settled after fleeing Kuwait along with hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians following the 1991 Gulf Wax. After working for a small period of time with the international company Citibank, Rania took on a marketing position with Apple Computers.

Those who have met her, like many western diplomats, agree she is destined to become a role model for the world's women, like her stepmother-in-law, Queen Noor. With her involvement in charity work, her common touch, and being at ease in the presence of ordinary people, many expect her to fill the role left empty by the fall of Diana, Princess of Wales. "She will be the perfect choice as a dazzling royal presiding over world charitable causes," said the wife of a high ranking western official who met Queen Rania last month.

"Rania immediately changed. Abdullah's life, persuading him to abandon the spendthrift life, which he had been previously known for," said a Jordanian source who knew the Royal couple back then. "Rania is one of the most intelligent members of the Royal Family, well versed and genuinely interested in world literature. When I met her, we had a long conversation about Dostoevsky," said Toujan Faisal, a leading member of the Opposition and until she lost her seat in 1997 was Jordan's only female member of parliament, in an interview with AP.

With people

Rania is not fixated on royal pomp and ceremony, preferring seminars on social change and high-level talks and debates like the World Economic Forum. She urges world leaders to fill what she calls the "hope gap," which falls between children, who grow up looking forward to life, and those caught in poverty or conflict. She perseveres despite having a controversial agenda in the eyes of the conservative Hashemite Kingdom. She has helped winning more representations for women in the Jordanian parliament, but utterly failed to see the ratification of a law ensuring severe penalties for "honor killings".

Though she stands as Queen of an Arab empire, Rania is no stranger to the turmoil that has afflicted millions of ordinary Arabs. Her father is a Palestinian who fled the West Bank when Israel captured the territory in 1967. She was born in Kuwait, which the family then abandoned for Jordan after the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Such experiences moulded a future activist as much as a Queen. "She doesn't go around through the rituals," says former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who has worked with Rania on international children's issues. "She is interested in the issues and wants to make a positive impact." Fortunately for Jordanians and for a world eternally struggling with conflicts, she is doing just that.


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