Rania Al-Yassin was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents from Tulkarm. She attended the New English School in Jabriya, Kuwait, then received a degree in Business Administration from the American University in Cairo. Upon her graduation from American University, she worked briefly in marketing for Citibank, followed by a job with Apple Inc. in Amman.
Since her marriage, Queen Rania has used her position to advocate for various sectors of society in Jordan and beyond.
Over the past few years, Queen Rania has launched, championed, and given patronage to several initiatives in education and learning.
The Queen is Chairperson of Jordan's first interactive children's museum. Opened in May 2007, it aims to encourage and nurture lifelong learning for children and their families. In April 2008, the Queen launched “Madrasati” (“My School”), a public-private initiative aimed at refurbishing 500 of Jordan’s public schools over a five-year period. In higher education, the Queen Rania Scholarship Program partners with several universities from around the world. Queen Rania is also Chairperson of the Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS).
Queen Rania's first venture was the establishment of the Jordan River Foundation (JRF) in 1995.
The Jordan River Children Program (JRCP) was developed by Queen Rania to place children’s welfare above political agendas and cultural taboos. This led to the launch, in 1998, of JRF’s Child Safety Program, which addresses the immediate needs of children at risk from abuse and initiated a long-term campaign to increase public awareness about violence against children. The deaths of two children in Amman as a result of child abuse in early 2009 led Queen Rania to call for an emergency meeting of government and non-government (including JRF) stakeholders to discuss where the system was failing.
In 2009, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her husband's accession to the throne, Queen Rania launched a community champion award (Ahel Al Himmeh) in March to highlight the accomplishments of groups and individuals who have helped their local communities.
Queen Rania has stated that an essential aspect of education is to equip young people with the necessary skills to perform well in the workplace.
She initiated the Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans in 2003, and has partnered with international universities providing scholarships for Jordanian students abroad. She supports Junior Achievement Worldwide, which was established by Save the Children in 1999 and launched as a Jordanian non-profit organization by the Queen in 2001. In her capacity as Regional Ambassador of INJAZ Arabia, she has taught classes, and engaged in dialogue with young people in other countries; she also launched INJAZ’s presence elsewhere in the Arab world. At the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, she launched the "Empowering One Million Arab Youth by 2018" campaign, which was conceived by INJAZ Arabia.
In November 2000, in recognition of her commitment to the cause of children and youth, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) invited Queen Rania to join its Global Leadership Initiative. The Queen works alongside other world leaders, including former South African President Nelson Mandela, in a global movement seeking to improve the welfare of children. In January 2007, Queen Rania was named UNICEF's first Eminent Advocate for Children. In August 2009, Queen Rania became Honorary Global Chair of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI).
As a longtime supporter of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Queen Rania met with children and inspirational women in South Africa, both in the cities of Johannesburg and Soweto, in March 2009. Queen Rania and the women took turns reading a short story out of The Big Read to the children, in an effort to encourage literacy. One of the stories in the book, “Maha of the Mountains”, was contributed by Queen Rania. In Soweto, she was the first to write her name in the back of the Big Read, before passing it on to everyone else to write their name.
During her April 2009 US trip, Queen Rania joined leading education advocates Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Counsellor to the Secretary of the Treasury Gene Sperling to launch "The Big Read" as part of Global Campaign for Education's global action week calling for quality basic education for all children. She was also hosted by first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, during that same trip.
On 20 August 2009, Queen Rania co-founded and led the launch of the "1GOAL: Education for All" campaign alongside Gary Lineker, and with the help of top international footballers at Wembley Stadium, London. Queen Rania is co-founder and global co-chair of the 1GOAL campaign to rally World Cup 2010 fans together during the world’s biggest single sporting event and call on world leaders to give 75 million children out of school an education. On 6 October 2009, Queen Rania was joined by Gordon Brown of the UK, the President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and other heads of state, for the Global Launch of 1GOAL, which took place across six locations worldwide. Queen Rania spoke of the need to turn this “tragedy into triumph” and called on political leaders to stand by their aid commitments.
In 2008, Queen Rania participated in YouTube's In My Name campaign. She appeared alongside The Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am in the video, "End Poverty – Be the Generation," which urged world leaders to keep the promises they made in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit.
Queen Rania has also been particularly vocal about the importance of cross cultural and interfaith dialogue to foster greater understanding, tolerance and acceptance across the world. She has used her status to correct what she sees as misconceptions in the West about the Arab world. Forbes magazine ranked her as one of the world's 100 most powerful women in 2011.
Queen Rania has played a significant role in reaching out to the global community to foster values of tolerance and acceptance, and increase cross-cultural dialogue. For example, regionally and internationally, Queen Rania has campaigned for a greater understanding between cultures in such high profile forums as the Jeddah Economic Forum, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the Skoll Foundation in the UK.
Queen Rania has also used YouTube as a way to promote intercultural dialogue by calling on young people around the world to engage in a global dialogue to dismantle stereotypes of Muslims and the Arab world. She has also made public appearances, including a half-hour television interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show on 17 May 2006, where she spoke about misconceptions about Islam and women's role in Islam. For her work in reaching out across cultures she received the North-South Prize from the Council of Europe in March 2009 and the first ever YouTube Visionary Award in November 2008. For her work in cross-cultural peace dialogue Queen Rania accepted the PeaceMaker Award. from the Non-Profit Seeds of Peace.
Over the years, Queen Rania has attended WEF many times, and participated in panels, plenary sessions, and private sessions that have dealt with diverse topics, including corporate global citizenship, youth, education reform, women, sustainability, global citizenship, philanthropy, and multiculturalism.
In May 2009, Queen Rania attended the fifth Young Global Leaders Summit at the Dead Sea, Jordan, to address socio-economic challenges facing the region and had trips organized for the Young Global Leaders in which they visited local Madrasati schools, the Jordan River Foundation, and other affiliated organizations.
When it comes to youth, in early 2002 Queen Rania joined the Board of Directors of the International Youth Foundation, based in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. In September 2006, Queen Rania also joined the United Nations Foundation Board of Directors. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach.
In September 2003, Queen Rania accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors of the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), thus formalizing a relationship of support and advocacy which began in 2000.
An emissary for the United Nations’ International Year of Microcredit in 2005, Queen Rania’s belief in microfinance and her partnership with FINCA has generated more Jordanian micro-businesses, with the official opening of FINCA Jordan in February 2008.
On 30 March 2008, Queen Rania launched her own YouTube channel, initially to invite viewers to give their opinions of the Middle East and talk about stereotypes they may have of Arabs and Muslims. Between 30 March and 12 August (International Youth Day), Queen Rania posted videos on YouTube in which she asked people to send her their questions about Islam and the Arab world. She provided responses to those questions and explained her view of the truth about various Arab and Muslim stereotypes. Over five months she posted videos on subjects that included honour killings, terrorism and the rights of Arab women. International personalities such as Dean Obeidallah, Maz Jobrani, and YouTube star Mia Rose also contributed videos to the campaign.
Queen Rania also links some of her recent interviews to her YouTube channel, such as her interview with Wolf Blitzer in CNN’s “Situation Room”, in April 2009. During this two part interview, Queen Rania discussed the importance of education. Queen Rania also uploads other videos on topics close to her heart, such as her appeal to support UNRWA’s work in Gaza following the Israeli assault in late December 2008/early January 2009.
Queen Rania is also a member of Facebook, with her own fan page aimed at engaging people to discuss cross-cultural dialogue, education, and more recently, the use of social media to create social change. Along with her YouTube videos that have been uploaded, photos of her personal and public life can be found. As of 12 November 2012, 1,539,544 people have "Liked" her page.
To coincide with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Jordan on Friday, 8 May 2009, Queen Rania started using the micro-blogging website Twitter with the username @QueenRania. On the occasion of the World Economic Forum held at the Dead Sea in Jordan, June 2009, Queen Rania conducted her first Twitter interview, answering five questions from the general public via her Twitter account.
When she joined Twitter, she also gave an interview with TechCrunch on “how Twitter can help change the world”, where she said It’s about using social media for social change: creating a community of advocates who can use their voices on behalf of the voiceless, or leverage their talents, skills, knowledge, and resources to put more children into classrooms, or pressure their elected representatives to get global education top of the agenda.
Her tweets have ranged from the personal, including photos of herself and her family, to more serious topics like the typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines, the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests, peace in the Middle East, and promoting Jordan, global education, and initiatives like 1GOAL. She has been taunted on Twitter for some of her tweets, such as those involving the 2010–2011 Tunisian protests. As of 27 November 2012, Queen Rania has over 2,427,395 followers.
Queen Rania has been accused of corruption and using her political power for benefits for her family such as nepotism. The Los Angeles Times published an article on the Queen's alleged corruption.
Gifts of land to the Queen's family have also been criticised. According to Agence France-Presse, leaders of 36 tribes issued a statement calling on the king "to return to the treasury land and farms given to the Yassin family." The royal court rebutted the claims, stating that the signers of the document "are not leaders of the tribes to which they belong." It also dismissed the claims about the land gifts, stating that a check of the land registry would contradict the claims.
She met Jordanian Abdullah bin Al-Hussein, who was a prince at that time, at a dinner party in January 1993. Two months later, they announced their engagement. On 10 June 1993, they were married. The couple have four children:
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Rania Al-AbdullahBorn: 31 August 1970
|Queen consort of Jordan
1999 – present