King Hussein I
It is hard to imagine Jorden wuthout King Hussein I. He has dominated the
country for forty-six years. King Hussein I is also the forty-second generation direct
descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. He was born in Amman on November 14, 1935,
to Prince Talal bin Abdullah and Princess Zein al-Sharaf bint Jamil. King Hussein has two
brothers, Prince Muhammad and Crown Prince El Hassan, and one sister, Princess Basma.
After completing his elementary education in Amman, King Hussein attended Victoria
College in Alexandria, Egypt, and Harrow School in England. He later received his
military education at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England Early in young
Husseinís life, and on July 20, 1951, his grandfather King Abdullah was martyred at
al-Aqsa mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem). Hussein was there, with his grandfather, as they
wentregularly to perform Friday prayers. A medal his grandfather had recently given the
young Prince Hussein, and which he wore after his grandfatherís insistence, saved Hussein
from the assassinís bullet.
On September 6, 1951, King Abdullahís eldest son, King Talal assumed the
throne. He was soon followed by his eldest son, Hussein, who was proclaimed King of the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on August 11, 1952. A Regency Council was appointed
until King Husseinís formal accession to the throne on May 2, 1953, when he assumed his
constitutional powers after reaching the age of eighteen, according to the Islamic calendar.
Throughout his long and eventful reign, King Hussein has worked hard at building
his country and raising the living standard of each and every Jordanian. Early on, King
Hussein concentrated on building an economic and industrial infrastructure that would
compliment and enhance the advances he wanted to achieve in the quality of life of his
people. During the 1960s, Jordanís main industries -including phosphate, potash and
cement- were developed, and a network of highways was built throughout the kingdom.
On the human level, the numbers speak for King Husseinís achievements. While in
1950, water, sanitation and electricity were available to only 10% of Jordanians, today
these reach 99% of the population. In 1960 only 33% of Jordanians were literate, in 1996,
this number climbed to 85.5%. In 1961, the average Jordanian received a daily intake of
2198 calories, and by 1992, this figure had increased by 37.5% to reach 3022 calories.
UNICEF statistics show that between 1981 and 1991, Jordan achieved the worldís fastest
annual rate of decline in infant mortality -from 70 deaths per1000 births in 1981 to 37 per
1000 in 1991, a fall of over 47%. King Hussein has always believed that Jordanís people
are its biggest asset, and he continues to encourage all -including the less fortunate, the
disabled and the orphaned- to achieve more for themselves and their country.
King Hussein has also struggled throughout his 45 year reign to promote peace in
the Middle East. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, he was instrumental in drafting UNSC
Resolution 242 which calls on Israel to withdraw from all the Arab lands it occupied in the
1967 war in exchange for peace. This resolution has served as the benchmark for all
subsequent peace negotiations. In 1991, King Hussein played a pivotal role in convening
the Madrid Peace Conference, and providing an "umbrella" for Palestinians to negotiate
their future as part of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. The 1994 Peace Treaty
between Jordan and Israel is a major step toward achieving a just, comprehensive and
lasting peace in the Middle East.
While working towards Arab-Israeli peace, King Hussein has also worked to
resolve disputes between Arab states. During the 1990-91 Gulf Crisis, he exerted
vigorous efforts to peacefully effect an Iraqi withdrawal and restore the sovereignty of
King Hussein has persevered in his pursuit of genuine Arab reconciliation,
wherever a conflict may arise between neighbors or within a country, such as his recent
mediation in the Yemeni civil war. Furthermore, and in almost every speech or forum,
King Hussein calls for international humanitarian aid to relieve the people and children of
Iraq from their daily suffering.
King Husseinís commitment to democracy, civil liberties and human rights has
helped pave the way in making Jordan a model state for the region. The kingdom is
internationally recognized as having the most exemplary human rights record in the Middle
East, while recent reforms have allowed Jordan to resume its irreversible drive to
democratization. In 1990 King Hussein appointed a royal commission representing the
entire spectrum of Jordanian political thought to draft a national charter. Today the
National Charter, along with the Jordanian Constitution, serves as a guideline for
democratic institutionalization