Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein (Arabic: عبدالله الثاني بن الحسين, ʿAbdullah al-thani bin Al-Husayn, born 30 January 1962) has been King of Jordan since 1999. He belongs to the Hashemite family, who have ruled Jordan since 1921 and claim agnatic descent from Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah.
Abdullah was born in Amman as the first child of King Hussein and his second wife, British-born Princess Muna. As the King’s eldest son, Abdullah was heir apparent until Hussein transferred the title to Abdullah’s uncle, Prince Hassan, in 1965. Abdullah began his schooling in Amman, continuing his education abroad. He began his military career in 1980 as a training officer in the Jordanian Armed Forces, later assuming command of the country’s Special Forces in 1994, and he became a major general in 1998. In 1993 Abdullah married Rania Al-Yassin (of Palestinian descent), and they have four children: Crown Prince Hussein, Princess Iman, Princess Salma and Prince Hashem. A few weeks before his death in 1999, Hussein named Abdullah his heir, and Abdullah succeeded his father.
Abdullah, a constitutional monarch, liberalized the economy when he assumed the throne, and his reforms led to an economic boom which continued until 2008. During the following years Jordan’s economy experienced hardship as it dealt with the effects of the Great Recession and spillover from the Arab Spring, including a cut in its petroleum supply and the collapse of trade with neighboring countries. In 2011, large-scale protests demanding reform erupted in the Arab world. Many of the protests led to civil wars in other countries, but Abdullah responded quickly to domestic unrest by replacing the government and introducing reforms to the constitution and laws governing public freedoms and elections. Proportional representation was introduced to the Jordanian parliament in the 2016 general election, a move which he said would eventually lead to establishing parliamentary governments. The reforms took place amid unprecedented challenges stemming from regional instability, including an influx of 1.4 million Syrian refugees into the natural resources-lacking country and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Abdullah is popular locally and internationally for maintaining Jordanian stability, and is known for promoting interfaith dialogue and a moderate understanding of Islam. The third-longest-serving Arab leader, he was regarded by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre as the most influential Muslim in the world in 2016. Abdullah is custodian of the Muslim and Christian sacred sites in Jerusalem, a position held by his dynasty since 1924.