HUSSEIN BIN TALAL
Majesty King Hussein bin Talal, the father of modern Jordan, will always
be remembered as a leader who guided his country through strife and turmoil
to become an oasis of peace, stability and moderation in the Middle East.
Among Jordanians, his memory is cherished as the inspiration for Jordan's
climate of openness, tolerance and compassion. Known to his people as Al-Malik
Al-Insan ("The Humane King"), King Hussein established a legacy which promises
to guide Jordan for many years to come.
At the time of his passing on February 7, 1999, His Majesty was the longest
serving executive head of state in the world. Of great significance to
Muslims throughout the world, the late King Hussein was also the forty-second
generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.
He was born in Amman on November 14, 1935, to Prince Talal bin Abdullah
and Princess Zein al-Sharaf bint Jamil. King Hussein is survived by two
brothers, Prince Mohammed and Prince El Hassan, and one sister, Princess
Basma. After completing his elementary education in Amman, His Majesty
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 went regularly to perform Friday
prayers. A medal King Abdullah had recently given the young Prince Hussein,
and which he wore after his grandfather's insistence, saved Hussein from
the assassin's 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 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, Jordan's
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, while by 1996, this number had 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 world's fastest annual rate of decline in infant mortality -from 70
deaths per 1000 births in 1981 to 37 per 1000 in 1991, a fall of over 47%.
King Hussein always believed that Jordan's people are its biggest asset,
and throughout his reign he encouraged all -including the less fortunate,
the disabled and the orphaned- to achieve more for themselves and their
King Hussein also struggled throughout his 47 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 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 Kuwait.
King Hussein always persevered in his pursuit of genuine Arab reconciliation,
wherever a conflict arose between neighbors or within a country, such as
his mediation in the Yemeni civil war. Furthermore, in almost every speech
or forum His Majesty called for international humanitarian aid to relieve
the people 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 and political pluralism in the country.
In 1989, 1993 and 1997, Jordan held parliamentary elections which were
accredited internationally as among the freest and fairest ever held in
the Middle East.
King Hussein married Queen Noor on June 15, 1978. They have two sons -Hamzah
and Hashem- and two daughters -Iman and Raiyah. His Majesty is also survived
by three sons -Abdullah, Faisal and Ali- and five daughters -Alia, Zein,
Aisha, Haya and Abeer- from three previous marriages. Toward the end of
his life, King Hussein became the proud grandfather of a growing number
HRH Prince Mohammed, the Personal Representative of His Majesty, has two
sons: Talal and Ghazi. HRH Prince El Hassan has four children: Rahma, Sumayya,
Badiya and Rashid, as well as three grandchildren. HRH Princess Basma has
four children: Farah, Ghazi, Saíad, and Zein.
The life of His Majesty has been the subject of numerous books. He himself
was the author of three books: Uneasy Lies the Head (1962), about his childhood
and early years as king, My War With Israel (1969), and Mon Métier
Over the course of his life, His Majesty King Hussein was an avid sportsman.
He was an accomplished aviator, motorcyclist and race-car driver who also
enjoyed water sports, skiing and tennis. He was well-known to ham radio
operators throughout the world as the friendly voice of "JY1". In his final
years, King Hussein enjoyed surfing the Worldwide Web and developed a strong
appreciation for the power of the Internet as a force for progress and
understanding. King Hussein's directive to provide Internet access for
every Jordanian school highlights yet another aspect of his enduring legacy.