Prince Hussein's wedding sparks memories of King Abdullah's nuptials in Jordan

prince hussein's wedding sparks memories of king abdullah's nuptials in jordan

Crown Prince Hussein and Rajwa Al Saif at their engagement last year. Photo: Jordanian Royal Palace

Three decades ago, Jordanian auditor Nada Ghazi was a teenager watching newlyweds King Abdullah II and Queen Rania being driven in a convertible through the streets of Amman.

Part of the 1993 event was broadcast on Jordanian state television, which dominated the airwaves at the time. There was no internet and Jordanians were dealing with the impact of a financial crisis, triggered four years before by the collapse of the dinar.

“I was fascinated by public spectacles since I was young,” says Ms Ghazi. “I remember the queen. She had her hair nicely raised. The king was wearing a military suit.”

On June 1, Ms Ghazi will be in front of the television again to watch King Abdullah’s 27-year-old son, Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, marry his fiancée, Saudi architect Rajwa Al Saif.

The wedding, part of which will be broadcast live, is a rare opportunity for Jordanians to see members of the Hashemite monarchy up close on a family occasion.

When King Abdullah married Queen Rania, he was a commander in the military. He was appointed crown prince shortly before his father King Hussein died in 1999.

This has been a busy year for the royal family: Princess Iman, one of the king’s four children and his eldest daughter, was married in March to Greek-Venezuelan Jameel Thermiotis, who works in finance in London.

Prince Hussein was appointed Crown Prince in 2018. King Abdullah holds all significant powers in the kingdom, but over the past few years, the Crown Prince has been given a higher profile, including travelling outside the kingdom on official missions.

He heads a foundation bearing his name, which focuses on finding jobs for young Jordanians. Unemployment is officially running at 23 per cent, one percentage point less than a record high last year.

The wedding will start with a religious ceremony at Zahran Palace in west Amman, a relatively affluent part of the city.

The palace is the same venue where Prince Hussein’s grandfather, King Hussein, was first married in 1955 to the late Princess Dina. Prince Abdullah was also married at Zahran Palace.

After the union is religiously pronounced, Prince Hussein will then travel by car 15 kilometres farther west for a reception.

Ms Ghazi says she and her four sisters will gather at her mother’s house in Jubeiha, a middle-class district in Amman, to watch the portions of the wedding that will be broadcast live.

Her sister Lina said they will order food.

“We are thinking of something Jordanian, like mansaf, since this will be a national occasion,” she said.

Many other Jordanians also plan to watch the wedding.

“I will be turning on the television for sure,” said Sana, a manager at an Amman bank.

“It is not every day that we get to see a historic occasion in Jordan.”

She recalled how she was glued to television when King Hussein died in 1999, with many of the world’s leaders in attendance at his funeral.

“It is hard not to think of King Hussein when watching the wedding. He was so humble and he left such a legacy,” she said.

She pointed out that before King Abdullah got married, King Hussein went to ask on his behalf for the hand of the future queen when she was living with her family in north Amman.

Abu Raed, a mechanic who owns a small shop in east Amman, said he will probably his wife and four children in watching the wedding on television, since June 1 has been declared a holiday.

“I will open the garage but most probably I will be done early, in time for the wedding,” he said.

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