Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein (born 30 January 1962) has been King of Jordan since 1999 upon the death of his father King Hussein. Abdullah is considered to be the 41st generation direct descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, through his belonging to the ancient Hashemite family, which has ruled Jordan since 1921.
Abdullah was born in Amman as the first child of King Hussein and his second wife, the British-born Princess Muna Al-Hussein. Shortly after his birth Abdullah was named Crown Prince. King Hussein transferred the title to his own brother, Prince Hassan, in 1965, only to return it to Abdullah in 1999. Abdullah began his schooling in Amman, later continuing his education abroad. Abdullah assumed command of Jordan’s Special Forces in 1994, and became a Major General in 1998. In 1993, he married Rania Al-Yassin, who is of Palestinian descent, with whom he has four children: Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma and Prince Hashem. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum, is his brother-in-law, through marriage to Abdullah’s sister Princess Haya bin Al-Hussein.
Despite Jordan being a constitutional monarchy, the king holds wide executive and legislative powers. Abdullah embarked on an aggressive economic liberalization upon assuming the throne, his reforms led to an economic boom that continued till 2005. The following years, Jordan’s economy witnessed hardship as it dealt with the spillover of regional turmoil, including the cutout of petroleum supply to Jordan and the collapse of trade with neighboring countries. This coincided with the Arab Spring in 2011, where large-scale protests erupted in the Arab World demanding reforms. Many of these protests culminated in civil wars in some countries, Abdullah responded quickly to domestic unrest by dismissing the government and the parliament, and introducing reforms.
Abdullah introduced proportional representation to the parliament in 2016, and is currently paving the way for parliamentary governments. Despite the reforms, they are considered to be insufficient by critics. Others praise the reforms which took place amid unprecedented regional instability, influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State. Abdullah is widely popular both locally and internationally for having maintained Jordan’s stability despite overwhelming odds. He is well-known for promoting peace, interfaith dialogue and the true message of Islam. He is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, a position that his ancestors held for decades. Abdullah is regarded as the most influential Muslim in the world.