Queen Rania – The Many Facets of the Queen of Hearts

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With the weight of royalty on her shoulders, it’s no wonder that Queen Rania has always controlled every aspect of her life. By spanning the globe with her activities on the social front and her intellectual curiosity towards women empowerment and global education, she somehow always has an explosive amount of energy. She conquered an empire of politics and fashion together with her blazingly beautiful looks and intellectual character, which made her identified as a Queen of Hearts; gettingall done through a combination of skilled diplomacy and sheer determination.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah was born Rania Al Yassin on August 31, 1970. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Cairo in 1991, later pursuing a career in banking in Jordan, followed by a brief career in the information technology sector, where she met Prince Abdullah bin Al Hussein on June 10, 1993.  They were married and have four adorable children now:  Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma, and Prince Hashem. Since her marriage, Queen Rania has focused her energies on creating opportunities for disadvantaged members of Jordanian society and beyond; from improving the quality of Jordanian family life, to tackling issues on Women Empowerment and global education.

In 1995, Queen Rania established the Jordan River Foundation to improve the livelihoods of families and communities across Jordan. It operates by creating income-generating projects and programs addressing the problem of child abuse. She also tackles many issues affecting youth as they are a major part of her concerns. Queen Rania believes that education is vital for giving people hope, improving lives, and ensuring stability throughout the world. To this effect, over the past few years, Her Majesty has launched, championed and given patronage to a number of initiatives in Jordan dedicated to education and learning. In April 2008, Queen Rania launched Madrasati, a public-private partnership to renovate 500 needy public schools.  In June 2009, Her Majesty launched the Queen Rania Teachers’ Academy, while in May 2007, she established the Kingdom’s first interactive Children’s Museum.

As Co-Chair of the Arab Open University, UNICEF’s Eminent Global Advocate for Children and was Honorary Chair of the Global Campaign for Education’s Action Week; Queen Rania has supported many initiatives like Education for All, the UN Girls’ Education Initiative, and the In My Name Campaign. During the summer of 2009, Her Majesty launched and was named Co-Founder and Global Co-Chair for 1GOAL, a campaign to promote global education in partnership with FIFA, World Cup South Africa 2010, and the Global Campaign for Education, ONE, and Comic Relief. In August 2004, Her Majesty established the International Academy, Amman (IAA), a not-for-profit ‘Model School of Excellence’, and a central pillar of Her Majesty’s charitable organization. also the Jordanian Education Society (JES) which works to raise the standards of education across Jordan. The IAA, for example, liaises with local government schools by forging partnerships, exchanging expertise, training teachers, and providing scholarships for talented but impoverished students.

Her Majesty has championed cross-cultural dialogue in the Jeddah Economic Forum, the Kennedy School of Government, Google Zeitgeist, and the Skoll Foundation in the UK. In recognition of Her Majesty’s work, she has been awarded the North South Prize from the Council of Europe, and the inaugural YouTube Visionary Award. In May 2008, Queen Rania launched the Arab Sustainability Leadership Group, the first of its kind in the region. A year later, they published the Arab Responsible Competitiveness Index on how sustainable practices can solve problems facing the Arab world; Her Majesty wrote the foreword.

To prepare Youth for the Workplace, her Majesty became Regional Ambassador of INJAZ Arabia which recruits private sector volunteers to teach soft skills to young people. The Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship started in October 2004, to nourish the entrepreneurial spirit and intellectual wealth of Jordan.  Queen Rania has recognized the outstanding work and voluntary efforts of unsung Jordanian heroes who had created positive and lasting changes in their communities, through Ahel Al Himmeh.

Launched in partnership with the World Economic Forum in 2003, the Jordan Education Initiative (JEI) is a non-profit organization that leverages public-private partnerships to spur education reform, drive innovation in the industry, and contribute to building a knowledge-based economy. Over the years, JEI has equipped Jordan’s classrooms with computer technology and Jordan’s teachers with cutting edge curricula; it has also focused on training teachers in more student-centered techniques, and is partnered with Madrasati.  The JEI model has been exported to and adapted in several countries.

Queen Rania established the Kingdom of Jordan’s first interactive children’s museum to encourage and nurture lifelong learning in children and their families. The Children’s Museum of Jordan opened its doors to the public on May 23, 2007. It has more than 150 engaging and educational exhibits designed for children aged 14 and under. Underprivileged children, and those attending Madrasati schools, are granted free access. Her Majesty is dedicated to promoting Early Childhood Development (ECD), and is accredited with raising the profile and importance of ECD in Jordan. Queen Rania facilitated the creation of a national curriculum, collaboration with British universities, teacher training, and the establishment of numerous ECD Centres. Her Majesty wrote the foreword for UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development Report 2008 for Jordan.

Queen Rania also launched the Innovative Teachers’ Network (ITN) in 2006, to bring together a global community of educators. The Network helps members share their passion and ideas for improving teaching and learning through the use of technology.

Regardless of economic background, Queen Rania believes that all Jordanian students should have the opportunity to pursue and excel in further education. That is why Her Majesty has secured scholarships from all over the world, in Jordan, Europe, the United States, and the Far East for students for subjects as commonplace as law, public service, and ICT, and as diverse as Digital Environment Design and Telecom and Digital Business.

Advocating for access to quality, global education for the entire world’s children; is at the top of Her Majesty’s international agenda.  From interviews with CNN to influential conferences like the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Economic Forum, Her Majesty has promoted the rights of millions of children to attend school, especially girls.

In November 2000, cognizant 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 to improve the welfare of children. On behalf of UNICEF in her role as Eminent Advocate for Children, the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) as Honorary Chairperson, and the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Queen Rania has visited South America, Northern and Southern Africa, and South Asia to campaign for broader access to schools and higher quality education for children.  During Her Majesty’s visit to South America, in October 2008, she visited numerous schools across the continent.  In Chile, Queen Rania toured a model kindergarten run by the Integra Foundation, an organization that focuses on the educational and social development of very young, underprivileged children.  While in Argentina, Her Majesty learned about UNICEF’s Educational Quality Self-Evaluation Tool, used by low-income schools to better improve services for students and parents. UNICEF also introduced Her Majesty to the Aprendiz City-School in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a leader in community education in the region, using public spaces to bring education to life for children in poor neighborhoods.  As part of her activities with the UNICEF, At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2007, Her Majesty was named UNICEF’s first Eminent Advocate for Children in recognition of her commitment to creating a better world for children.

In June 2007, Queen Rania visited Morocco, where she saw the Fkih Mohamed Tahiri School in Fez, which offers former child laborers the chance to go to school and integrate with other children. Organized in collaboration with UNICEF, this school is part of the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor Programme, which strives to remove young girls from the factory floor and put them in the classroom.  Her Majesty visited New Delhi, India, in March 2006, where she visited UNICEF’s Ritanjali Learning Center. There she learned about their efforts to give children, who drop out of school for financial reasons, the chance to take part in vocational educational opportunities. She has also supported the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) and the efforts of the Class of 2015 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), notably Goals 2 & 3 for universal primary education and gender equality. Outside UN Headquarters in September 2008, Queen Rania gave her voice to the In My Name Campaign, calling on global leaders to keep their MDG promises, alongside other activists, like Mary Robinson, Will.I.am, and Angelique Kidjo. In support of Education for All (EFA), Her Majesty spoke at the High Level Event on Education for All in Oslo, in December 2008. Queen Rania argued for the importance of girls’ education and the need for donor countries to fulfill their pledges to Education for All.

In early 2002, Queen Rania joined the Board of Directors of the International Youth Foundation, based in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States.  She joins a distinguished group of business, government, and civil society leaders from across the globe to support the work of one of the world’s largest public foundations helping young people learn basic life skills and get the education, training, and opportunities they need to succeed.

In 2004 and 2006, Her Majesty hosted the first and second joint annual meetings for the Advisory Council and Board of Directors of World Links Arab Region (WLAR).  Through the use of technology and the Internet, this program is dedicated to enhancing performance in education, creating economic opportunities, and improving mutual global understanding for youth in developing countries.

Her Majesty is an Honorary Member of the International Advisory Council for the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), an organization committed to working towards empowering girls through education.

It is incredible and humbling to hear this charismatic Queen of Hearts speak her mind knowing just a glimpse of all the efforts she has exerted for her country, her people and moreover for the Arab world. At the forefront to bridging the gap between East and West Queen Rania has done tremendously to foster this kind of much needed dialogue. God bless the Queen of Hearts!

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