Spotlight on a queen.

Author:Darwish, Adel
Position:Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan

Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, the woman they least expected to be their Queen, has already found her way into the hearts of the Jordanian people.

At 28 Rania possesses good looks and a smart head on her slim shoulders. Those who have met her agree she is destined to become a role model for the world's women. With her involvement in charity work, her common touch and her ease in the presence of ordinary people, many expect her to fill the role left vacant by the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. "She will just be the perfect choice as a dazzling royal presiding over world charitable causes," said the wife of a high ranking Western official who met Rania last month.

As a Palestinian, young Queen Rania's task is crucial in helping to unify a nation whose population is divided between the 60 per cent majority of Palestinian descent and the 40 per cent East Bank Arab Bedouin tribal stock.

Born to an Arab Muslim family that originated in the West Bank town of Tulkarm and later moved, like so many enterprising Palestinian families, to Kuwait, Queen Rania is being compared to Hussein's third wife, Alia, also a beautiful Palestinian with West Bank roots, who died in a helicopter crash in 1977. Unlike her English born mother-in-law, Princess Muna, and Queen Noor, previously Lisa Halaby, daughter of an American family of Lebanese descent, Queen Rania will not have the handicap of being regarded as foreign.

Rania al-Yassin was born on 31 August, 1970, in Kuwait to a respected middle class Palestinian family. After the 1991 Gulf War, like most of the 300,000 Palestinians then living in the oil-rich emirate, her family was forced to leave as Palestinians were accused of co-operating with the Iraqi occupiers. They moved to Jordan. Rania completed her secondary schooling in Kuwait, and went on to study management at the American University in Cairo, where she graduated in 1991. She was introduced to Prince Abdullah by mutual acquaintances in Amman, according to a close friend. "Rania immediately changed Abdullah's life, persuading him to abandon the fast living for which he had been previously known," said one Jordanian source who knew the couple from that period.

Since their wedding on 10 June 1993, at a glittering ceremony presided over by King Hussein, the couple have had two...

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