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Old 01-05-2005, 09:27 PM
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Religion can be a tool for construction — Prince Hassan

AMMAN (JT) — HRH Prince Hassan on Wednesday said the right path to the sound rebuilding of Iraq is through religious and sectarian dialogue that contributes to setting up a democracy based on respect of other sects and faiths. Religion should be a tool of construction and should be dealt with as a positive value that helps build a democratic society, the Prince said in his address at an international conference “Iraq: Notions of Self and the Other Since the Late Ottoman Era,” which opened yesterday for three days at the Amman Marriott Hotel.

The three-day conference is organised by the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (RIIFS) and the Japan Foundation (JPF) in cooperation with the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq and the Goethe Institute in Amman.

Prince Hassan, who is chairman of the RIIFS board of trustees, said focus should primarily be placed on mentalities, hearts and minds.

Iraq has always been one Iraq with all the various identities it consists of, with each being an integral part of the collective identity of the country.

Citing history, Prince Hassan said that West Asia's Arabs have striven to build an Arab state built on pluralism, a moderate version of Islam, people's representations in decision-making bodies and public freedoms.

He cited King Faisal I's struggle in building modern Iraq, succeeding with the help of the Iraqi national movement to build the country within its present borders in about 10 years.

On behalf of the Japan Foundation, Japanese Ambassador Koichi Obata reviewed JPF projects to enhance international cultural exchange, noting that Iraq has been in the spotlight of such efforts, due to the sensitivity of the era the war-torn country is undergoing.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Old 01-06-2005, 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by shelley
From what I know,Princess Sarvath always kept a low profile, even when her husband was Crown Prince, and did not give many interviews nor seek attention from the media. I think obviously at a certain time she had more official duties as far as opening events, entertaining officially and meeting people who were visiting Jordan and travelling abroad, both with Prince Hassan and in her own right as a valued speaker at conferences and seminars, particularly to do with women's rights in Islam and education. I assume much of this sort of work has diminshed now, but Princess Sarvath is definitely actively involved in 'hands on' running of her many educational projects : The Amman Baccalaureate School, The Bunayat Centre for Special Education, The Princess Sarvath Community College, and the YWMA Shetered Workshop for the Handicapped. There is a Press Office in the Royal Palace which approves and passes any mention of members of the Royal Family in the Jordanian media. Prince Hassan is still not allowed to feature on Jordanian television and radio six years after being removed as Crown Prince. I think, going back to Princess Sarvath, she has always valued her privacy and would not have welcomed a personality cult, which we have to admit was the normal way for royal families. Princess Diana and Queen Noor were amongst the first to change this habit. What was odd was that despite really not being widely known, suddenly everyone was willing to buy the gossip about the pushy princess who could not wait to be queen and was busy decorating the palace in anticipation of her husband taking over. Would not someone who was so ambitious have taken the opportunities that were certainly her's for the taking, and cultivated a higher profile ? What is also interesting is that despite this low profile, Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath are the members of the JRF who have the best personal relations with other Royal Families, which strengthens the argument that Princess Sarvath chooses very carefully whom she sees and what she does, but not that she is a recluse or unpopular.
True. But I think that both Hassan and Sarvath deserve a little more recognition for the work they do.
If you compare the media coverage of the various members of the royal family in Jordan to that in Brunei, there's quite a bit of difference. Both countries are authoritarian monarchies, but in Brunei almost all members of the royal family are featured prominently in the state-owned media. Whether its the Sultan's kids, his brothers Muhammad and Sufri, his sister Masna etc. (Except ofcourse, for the Sultan's exiled brother Jefri)
In Jordan, however, the bulk of the media coverage centres around King Abdullah and Queen Rania.

Old 01-16-2005, 12:00 PM
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LUXEMBOURG ROYAL FUNERALPolfoto 15-01-2005 Jordan's Princess Sarvath, center, wipes a tear as her husband Prince Hassan , center row right, looks on during the funeral of Luxembourg's Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg, Saturday Jan. 15, 2005. Josephine-Charlotte died of lung cancer Monday, Jan. 10 at age 77. Seated left is Greece's former King Constantine.
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Old 02-06-2005, 12:38 PM
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It is a pity Prince Hassan's words were not heeded before there were so many tragic deaths:

Our Disaster Proposals Went Unheeded
By El - Hassan Bin Talal
Special to The Daily Star
Friday, February 04, 2005

"The Asian tsunami is the greatest humanitarian disaster in recent world history. It is even more tragic because a report produced 17 years ago could have reduced some of the casualties." I made this indictment a few days ago because I was one of the authors of that report.

The report in question, which was prepared for the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues, set out, among other things, a blueprint for disaster management. The commission pointed out that the international community had failed to construct a viable method for dealing effectively with the humanitarian dimensions of disasters.

The report (which was later published as the book "Winning the Human Race?") went to the United Nations General Assembly in late 1987. Every year the issues raised by the document are examined by the General Assembly under the heading of the "new international humanitarian order." But not much seems to be happening. The ideas seem to be so full of commonsensical recommendations that one must wonder why governments are not doing more to get the report implemented.

On natural disasters, the commission made four pages of detailed recommendations. For example, it recommended that the UN should elaborate a code of conduct to regulate the management of disasters. This should contain the principle that humanitarian criteria ought to prevail over any political or sovereignty constraints for the limited period of the emergency. "Mercy corridors" could be created to facilitate the entry of relief personnel and the import of goods to ensure unhindered access of assistance to victims. This is precisely the concern in Indonesia's Aceh province at present.

The report said that the UN should designate a central coordinating body that is fully recognized as the main institution coordinating relief efforts. The entity should have a prearranged formula for the collection of funds. Had this been implemented, it would have reduced the need for the ad hoc funding for the Asian tsunami victims currently underway.

The UN body would also maintain a central repository of information relating to all phases of disaster management, including prevention, preparedness, relief and rehabilitation. It would also work with its equivalents in all countries.

A feature of natural disasters in developing countries is that their magnitude is often amplified. Developed countries reduce their risk by tougher planning and building regulations and have state emergency services, including national disaster planning procedures. In contrast, it seems that some of the Asia tsunami victims were killed because they were in buildings that would not have been allowed in many other countries, for example because they were built too close to the beach. Indeed, in Thailand it seems that some people advised against the construction of some beachfront properties, and the advice was ignored at the time. Therefore, all governments should have valid national disaster plans.

The report also recommended that governments, humanitarian organizations and the international community should promote the progressive development of international law, whereby countries are obligated to prepare for disaster relief within their own territory and take preventive measures to minimize suffering resulting from disasters. We also advocated that they accept relief for their people from the international community after the occurrence of a disaster if their own resources were inadequate; but also that they make efforts in good faith to assist other countries in the event of a disaster.

A feature of the report was a suggestion that, in order to obtain greater efficiency, insiders at the local level contribute to devising disaster management programs of prevention, preparedness, relief and rehabilitation. Food consumption habits, traditional medicines, religious values and other local customs of communities should be researched for each phase of disaster management in order to avoid programs inappropriate to the culture of a people in need.

For example, there were problems in Aceh recently when a well-meaning Catholic priest from Australia accidentally ran up against local conservative Muslim leaders who feared that he was trying to seek Christian converts.

The tsunami tragedy is an incentive for the UN to act fully on the independent commission's report, and for all governments to create national disaster programs. Major countries should take a lead at the UN General Assembly session later this year to ensure that the report is implemented.

Prince El-Hassan bin Talal of Jordan co-chaired the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues that wrote the report later published in a book as "Winning the Human Race?" He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star.

I hope this does not count as 'political'.
Old 03-12-2005, 06:37 PM
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1-2. Malaysian former Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad (L) speaks to the audience as Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf (R) and Jordanian Prince Hasan Bin Talal (L) look on during a convocation of International Islamic University in Islamabad on Saturday 12 March 2005. Prince Talal was invited by International Islamic university in Islamabad on an informal discussion on socio-political and cultural issues of contemporary Arab and Muslim world. EPA/T.MUGHAL

3. ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (4L)nd his wife Sahiba Musharraf (3L) pose for the photographs along with former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (4R), Prince El-Hassan bin Talal of Jordan (3R), Ahmed Kathrada, representative of former South African President Nelson Mandela (2R), Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz (R) and two unidentified women after a dinner in Islamabad, 11 March 2005. Musharraf hosted the dinner in honour of participants of the third Convocation of International Islamic University. AFP PHOTO/HO/PID (Photo credit should read PRESS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Prince Hassan with the Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the Malaysian PM and wife

4. HRH Prince Hassan is awarded an honorary doctorate of law degree by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday during a convocation ceremony at the International Islamic University (IIU) in Islamabad. The IIU said the award was `a token of recognition and admiration of the Prince's leading role in, and outstanding services for the cause of education and general welfare of the underprivileged people of the world at large.' Nelson Mandela, former president and founder of the new South Africa, and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad were also awarded honorary degrees in recognition of their meritorious services in various disciplines, according to the statement. The IIU encourages and promotes education, training and research in Islamic learning, social sciences, applied sciences and the rapidly growing field of information technology (Reuters photo by Faisal Mahmood)
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Old 03-12-2005, 06:47 PM
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More news of Prince Hassan's activities in Pakistan

Prince Hassan to Inaugurate Islamic World Exhibition at IIUI

One of the most salient feature of the forthcoming cultural week is the 'Islamic World Exhibition to be held on Sunday March 13, 2005, at 10:30am at the old campus of the University, Faisal Mosque Complex.
His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will inaugurate the exhibition.

On display in the exhibition, there will be pictures, movies, dresses, books, foods, decoration pieces and many other items representing the cultural richness of the Muslim world. More than 20 stalls will be there to be organized by Central and South Asian, Arab, African, Far Eastern and European students of the University.

Nelson Mandela, Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan and Dr. Mahatir Muhammad are scheduled to receive such degrees in the forthcoming 3rd Convocation to be held on the 12th of this month in the Jinnah Convention Centre Islamabad
Old 03-12-2005, 07:00 PM
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ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf vowed on Saturday to “fight terrorism ruthlessly” and asked moderate Pakistanis to help him tackle extremism and sectarianism because “this task cannot be achieved by an individual or the government alone”.

Addressing the third convocation of the International Islamic University, the president said a successful fight against terrorism and extremism was only possible with the help of moderate forces in the country. “There is a tendency to equate Islam with religious extremism and terrorism. Misperceptions about Islam need to be removed through the strategy of enlightened moderation for durable and lasting peace in the world,” he said.

The president said the Muslim world should reject extremism and move towards socio-economic development while the West should resolve lingering political disputes, the root cause of extremism and terrorism.

“Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and tells women and men to live in harmony by promoting justice, equality and fraternity,” he said.

Musharraf said the Muslim world was facing many challenges. The 57 Muslim countries of the 191 in the world possess more than 70 percent of the world’s energy resources, yet their share of global trade is less than six percent, he said. He said the collective GDP of the Muslim countries was less than five percent of the total GDP of the world. He said it was ironic that 20 of the 39 least developed countries in the world were Muslim states.

Musharraf urged students to play a dynamic role in the country’s progress. “You are the hope and future of Pakistan and must inculcate decisiveness, boldness and balance and participate actively in the country’s development.”

The president conferred Doctor of Law degrees to Nelson Mandela in recognition of his struggle against apartheid and injustices in South Africa. He also conferred a degree to Prince Hassan for services rendered towards the unity of the Muslim world and for promoting intellectual and interfaith harmony. Mahathir was conferred a Doctor of Law degree for his inspiring leadership of the Malaysian people.

Prince Hassan praised President Musharraf’s vision of enlightened moderation, which he said was a step forward towards solving these challenges.

Mahathir said Islam taught tolerance and respect for other beliefs. He said Muslims must learn to coexist with people of other religions by creating inter-religious harmony, particularly in multi-religious societies. Mr Mandela’s representative read out a message thanking the government of Pakistan for awarding him the degree.
Old 03-17-2005, 01:42 AM
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This is from today's edition of The Jordan Times.

Prince Hassan Inaugurates Photography Exhibition

AMMAN (Petra) — HRH Prince Hassan on Wednesday inaugurated a travelling photography exhibition at the Swedish ambassador's residence commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dag Hammarskjold, the Swedish UN secretary general who died in a plane crash while on a peace mission in Zambia in 1961. On display at the five-day exhibition are photos of the late UN secretary general and his achievements in ending armed conflicts. Chief Chamberlain Prince Raad Ben Zeid, HRH Princess Sarvath, Princess Majda Raad and several diplomats also attended the opening ceremony.
Old 03-19-2005, 10:56 PM
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From The Jordan Times

Prince Hassan Turns 58

AMMAN (JT) — HRH Prince Hassan today celebrates his 58th birthday.

Born on March 20, 1947, Prince Hassan is the youngest brother of the late King Hussein and HRH Prince Mohammad and the older brother of HRH Princess Basma.

After completing his primary education in Jordan, the Prince enrolled at Summerfields Preparatory School and then Harrow in England before going to Christ Church, Oxford, where he received a BA in oriental studies in 1967, followed later by an MA.

Prince Hassan married HRH Princess Sarvath in 1968. They have four children — Their Royal Highnesses Princess Rahma, Princess Sumaya, Princess Badiya and Prince Rashid — and five grandchildren.

Prince Hassan personally initiated and directed several Jordanian and international institutions and committees. He founded the Royal Scientific Society in 1970, the Arab Thought Forum in 1981, the Forum Humanum in 1982 (renamed the Arab Youth Forum in 1988) and the Higher Council for Science and Technology in 1987.

Prince Hassan established and directed in Jordan the Islamic Scientific Academy, the Biannual Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan, the Hashemite Aid and Relief Agency, the Centre for Educational Development, the Centre on Refugees in Yarmouk University and Al al Bayt University in Mafraq.

On the international stage, Prince Hassan, who is president of the prestigious Club of Rome, continues to be involved in interfaith dialogue and inter-civilisation endeavours to build bridges of peace and cooperation. In 2004 he founded the Parliament of Cultures in Ankara, Turkey.

In 2001, His Majesty King Abdullah entrusted Prince Hassan with continuing the dialogue among followers of various cultures, sects and religions.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

From the Jordan Times

El Hassan Bin Talal Award Winners Announced

AMMAN (JT) — This year's first prize for the El Hassan Bin Talal Award for Academic Excellence was awarded to the Centre of Educational Excellence and Jubilee School for the project “King Hussein Science Garden.” The project is a model for learning and teaching science, especially physics, the Higher Council for Science and Technology (HCST) announced yesterday.

The award, created in 1995 to encourage academic, scientific and technological activities, is granted annually to winners in one of three categories: Institutions of general education, institutions of higher education, and institutions of vocational and technical education.

First prize is JD5,000.

The King Hussein Science Garden project is an interactive approach that complements the different fields of sciences, frees the students and teachers from the limitations of the classroom and closed laboratories, and presents scientific concepts and laws in a fun-filled environment that encourages inquisitiveness and exploration.

The second prize (JD3,000) was divided between “At Risk Children — Children between dropout and beggars” project of Al Jubeiha High School for Girls, Ministry of Education, and “The School That We Want” project of Al Dur Al Manthour School.

At Risk Children is a field research that examines the reasons behind the issue of school dropouts and ways to remedy the problem. The students conducting the project also created a donation fund for underprivileged students to prevent them from dropping out of school.

The second project, “The School That We Want,” comprises several educational programmes, both curriculum and extracurricular, in different fields of education that seek to achieve the Kingdom's vision for quality education in schools.

The third prize, of JD2,000, was also split, between the Islamic Scientific College for its project “Students' Curriculum for Success and Excellence,” and Baqaa High School for Girls' project “Book Binding and School Garden.”

The committee of judges for the award reviewed 20 projects submitted by 16 institutions. Eleven projects were eliminated in the first round for failing to meet the minimum qualifications of the competition, the HCST said.

Presentation of the awards will be conducted at a ceremony on April 10 at which HRH Prince Hassan, chairman of the HCST, will act as patron.
Old 03-20-2005, 10:25 AM
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I am just starting to learn about Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath, so I really appreciate learning more about this couple from the articles and profiles posted in this thread.

I have a question about Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath's relationship with other royal households. It seems to me that this couple has developed/established numerous friendships with other royals, such as Queen Beatrix (they were invited to a predominantly wedding for Johan and Mabel) and to Felipe and Letizia's wedding even though Queen Rania was already representing Jordan. What is the relationship between Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath with these other royals since King Hussein changed the succession (if it has changed at all)? And does anyone know the reaction of various royals when they learned of the change in Jordanian succession?

It doesn't seem to me (although I guess this could be a different thread entirely) that the present reigning royals have the same close friendship they share with Prince Hassan, Princess Sarvath and Queen Noor with King Abdullah and Queen Rania and that the present King and Queen aren't invited to as many more private royal celebrations than their uncle, aunt and step-mother. Am I wrong in this perception?
Old 03-20-2005, 01:05 PM
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Anyone who follows these threads must know that I am a firm believer that Prince Hassan and his family have been much maligned in recent years. I have the advantage of both being older than many members, so have been around that bit longer, reading and watching and listening, and I have lived in Jordan and have many contacts there. Have you looked in the old threads that are now locked, concerning the succession etc. when this was widely discussed by some of us - Papillion, Alia Musallam, and some others. You can get a general idea of another point of view from these posts.

Regarding Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath's relationships with other royals. It was an open secret in Jordan that they had very close friendships with many European royals, who have remained firm friends. In many cases, they had deeper personal relationships than even the late king and his family, even Queen Noor. I remember that they would often have private invitations to Holland, Luxembourg, Britain, Germany, Spain and the Scandanavian countries, for shoots and birthdays and anniversaries and just spending time together as friends. Members of these royal families would come and stay in Jordan with the prince and princess and their family. I don't know if anyone can access Prince Edward's wedding photograph which was taken in 1999, just after the succession change, and Prince Hassan had pride of place in the photograph behind the bride and groom, between the groom's two brothers, and the Jordanian couple were the only non family members at Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee celebrations. The whole of Prince Hassan's family were invited to the Queen Elizabeth 11's "decades" party she gave for her mother, sister, daughter. I remember noticing that although King Hussein and Queen Noor were there, no other JRF members featured on theb guest list that was published. They were also the only JRF at the Aga Khan's parties for his and his daughter's weddings. I also noticed that only Prince Hassan's family were at the recent wedding of the Crown Prince of Qatar. Prince Hassan is often in Morocco, Bahrain and Qatar. So I guess the short answer to your question, is yes, I think they do have good personal relations with the foreign royals. I do not know the answer to why this is. They are both European educated, which must help as well and speak many Europeans lanaguages fluently between them . I know Princess Sarvath knew some of these families before her marriage, through her own family, so that perhaps helped as well. Anyway, I don't know why, but that is how it seems to aon interested observer. :)
Old 03-20-2005, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Alexandria
I have a question about Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath's relationship with other royal households. It seems to me that this couple has developed/established numerous friendships with other royals, such as Queen Beatrix (they were invited to a predominantly wedding for Johan and Mabel) and to Felipe and Letizia's wedding even though Queen Rania was already representing Jordan. What is the relationship between Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath with these other royals since King Hussein changed the succession (if it has changed at all)? And does anyone know the reaction of various royals when they learned of the change in Jordanian succession?

It doesn't seem to me (although I guess this could be a different thread entirely) that the present reigning royals have the same close friendship they share with Prince Hassan, Princess Sarvath and Queen Noor with King Abdullah and Queen Rania and that the present King and Queen aren't invited to as many more private royal celebrations than their uncle, aunt and step-mother. Am I wrong in this perception?
I think you are correct in your observations about P. Hassan's and P. Sarvath's close relationships with some of the other royal families, and it is very astute of you to notice that such does not seem to be the case vis-a-vis KA and QR. I could be wrong, but I think P. Hassan's and P. Sarvath's relationships with the other royals more than withstood all the succession chaos, which speaks volumes about this couple. Maybe others know more?!
Old 03-22-2005, 05:15 PM
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Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf attends a convocation ceremony at an Islamic University in Islamabad
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf (front C), former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (front R) and Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal (front L) attend a convocation ceremony at an Islamic University in Islamabad March 12, 2005. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

You can see Prince Rashid in the background
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Old 03-25-2005, 05:49 AM
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From The Daily Star

Jordan is the Palestinians' Natural Partner
Commentary By Prince El-Hassan bin Talal
March 25, 2005

The attempts now being made to revive the "road map" to a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the creation of a Palestinian state are at only a preliminary stage. The recent international conference in London, aimed at supporting reforms in the Palestinian Authority and shoring up support for renewed negotiations with Israel, is one of those preliminary efforts.

I suggest, however, that it is not mediation that is needed: what the Palestinians need now are partners. In their conflict with Israel, their natural and historical partner has always been Jordan.

That partnership was never broken. Articles 3 and 8 of Jordan's peace treaty with Israel refer explicitly to the refugee problem as one of the major issues still to be resolved, as well as citing the unresolved status of trans-border arrangements and of Jerusalem. Jordan is not outside the peace process, but an essential part of it.

The original road map sketched out at the Madrid Conference in 1991 envisaged two stages: the final settlement of disputes between the Palestinians and Israel, and the permanent settlement of regional conflicts. Jordan's participation in both stages is crucial.

Indeed, the interests of the inhabitants of the three areas - Palestine, Jordan and Israel - are so intertwined that their representatives will have no choice but to come to terms with one another if negotiations are to succeed.
For example, the refugee problem cannot be separated from wider problems concerning the integration of all inhabitants of Palestine, Jordan and Israel - where the refugees are most numerous - into civil societies where they may enjoy equal legal status and equal access to economic and cultural opportunities.

Such integration cannot be achieved on a unilateral basis but only by programs adopted by the host and donor countries in cooperation with each other; nor can it be achieved in conditions where there is complete political and administrative separation between the populations which places them under exclusive controls and fails to acknowledge the human needs of community and conviviality.

The economic and social development of the three areas demands an integrated approach to the exploitation of energy and other natural resources, particularly water. Without agreements on the conditions of such exploitation there will remain imbalances in living conditions and the persistence of rival claims with their potential for future conflicts.

A recognized community of water and energy interests and programs for their joint exploitation, for example in the rift valley, may lead, as was the motivation for the first stage of European integration, to a wider integration on a wider scale in the region.

The status of Jerusalem is still an unresolved question on both the local and international scenes. That question was specifically listed in the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty. The recognition by the three parties of the primacy of the moral and spiritual over the political importance of the city could lead to arrangements on the ground which satisfy the legitimate claims of the three Abrahamic faiths, and subsume the eventual political status of the city to this moral authority.

The alternative to an accepted resolution of their problems by the three parties is the permanent fragmentation of the Holy Land, which can only lead to more confrontation and violent conflicts.
The shadow of such fragmentation, with its unfathomable perils, now hangs over Iraq. In this troubled part of the world, the choice is, quite simply, one between regionalism and barbarism.

Prince El-Hassan bin Talal is the president of the Club of Rome, moderator of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and the president of the Arab Thought Forum. This commentary is published in cooperation with Project Syndicate (
Old 04-01-2005, 02:39 AM
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Now this is where the guy shows his different perpective on life:

River of no return?
Mar. 31, 2005


Mighty Jordan? Dams, canals and pumping stations have left the river with only 10 percent of its original flow.

Baqoora, Jordan

'And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere' (Genesis 13:10)

"DANGER: Forbidden to drink or bathe in water," reads the sign that hangs near the Jordan River bridge crossing. But under the bridge only weeds litter the dry riverbed, a sharp contrast to the surrounding rain-soaked green hills of early March.

The legendary Jordan River is only a trickle of its former glory. Today what keeps it flowing is the sewage dumped inside.

"The Jordan River is in danger of disappearing altogether if governments in the region do not take action immediately," said Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME), a joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian environmental organization with offices in Tel Aviv, Bethlehem and Amman.

Dams, canals and pumping stations have left the river with only 10 percent of its original flow. Decades of competition, mainly between Jordan and Israel, have sucked dry the lower Jordan River, which flows from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.

Capitalizing on the renewed Middle East peace negotiations, FOEME organized a conference earlier this month inviting Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials, environmentalists and farmers. But what became clear was that the decision-makers have no intention of letting the water flow back into the river.

"Unfortunately, environmental policies are governed by politics," said Jordan's Prince Hassan Bin Talal, under whose patronage the event took place. "We don't have a comprehensive peace, but I don't see why we have to continue with the policy of mutually assured destruction of the environment and resources."

FOEME realizes that to save the fabled river, all the peoples and governments who use it must cooperate. Prince Hassan goes further. He argues that environmental matters should be dealt with by a higher regional body with delegates from the different states.

But while the second intifada raged for the past four and a half years, such a meeting was impossible to arrange, which is why, shortly after the Israelis and Palestinians resumed negotiations at the Sharm e-Sheikh Summit in February, FOEME quickly set a date for the conference that they had been preparing for over a year.

About 200 participants from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories attended the Jordan Valley Symposium, which its organizers hoped would raise awareness about the impending ecological disaster. The participants disagreed, however, about what should be done.

As the day wore on and the speakers took turns telling of their commitment to helping save the river, it became increasingly clear that the most obvious solution – letting the water flow – was not an option.

The location at Baqoora was meant to remind the participants of earlier commitments to the river. Annex Four of the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty states that the two governments agree to cooperate on ecological rehabilitation of the river.

"Sadly, nothing has been done since the treaty was signed. On the contrary – the situation has worsened," said Bromberg.

"Is it a competition: who can damage the river more than the other?" asked Munqeth Mehyar, director of FoEME in Amman. "This could be understood in a state of war, but not now. Did we have to take all the water?"
Old 04-01-2005, 02:43 AM
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While the environmentalist agreed with him, the politicians and the farmers did not. Professional interests and not nationality were what directed people's views on what to do with the river. Israeli and Jordanian politicians agreed that they wanted the water to be free of sewage, polluted fish pond water and salinated water from diverted springs.

Environment Minister Shalom Simhon promised to stop the dirty dumping.

But neither the Israeli nor the Jordanian officials promised to restore water to the river.
"The problem is that in Israel, in Jordan and in the region, fresh clean water running naturally is seen as a waste of water," explained Bromberg. "That is despite a new correction of the water law passed by the Knesset in 2004 that nature has the right to water and is a legitimate user."

Already parts of the river are dry in summer because all the flowing waters are captured by Israel, Jordan and Syria.

"The irony is that the sewage is keeping the Jordan river alive," said Bromberg.

Agriculture is the biggest consumer of the Jordan River's water and in Israel the farmer's lobby remains strong, said Bromberg, resisting cuts in water allocation or rises in water prices. Seventy-five percent of the river's water goes to farming, said Bromberg, but that only contributes to 8% of the GDP. "It doesn't make environmentalist or economic sense."

Israeli and Jordanian farmers and politicians insist that the farmers should not have to change professions or even change crops. One of the main crops irrigated in the Jordan River Valley is bananas, which consumes great amounts of water.

Yossi Vardi, the mayor of the Jezreel Valley region which begins at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee and continues to the Dead Sea, told the conference he wants to develop tourism and industry in his region.

But after the conference he told the Post his region had no plans to cut down on farming.

"I'm not willing to have land that is not farmed," he said. "I'm not going to exchange agriculture for other industries. I do research to learn how to use less water."

Munther Haddadin, the former Jordanian minister of water and irrigation, explained that even if agriculture does not provide much of the GDP, it does provide work in outlying areas of the country.

"There are social gains," Haddadin told the conference. "How else can you distribute population across the country when there is not enough industry?"

Only Palestinian farmers complain they get very little water and have no say in its distribution. Since 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank through which part of the Jordan River flows, water access came under Israeli control. According to agreements, the Palestinians are supposed to receive from Israel 250 cubic meters of water from the basin. But in actuality they receive far less.

"This is not a charity right," said Nader al-Khateeb, FOEME's Palestinian director in Bethlehem. "As Palestinians, we need to be considered as partners and not only consumers."

Bromberg hoped to impress upon the participants that the river must be preserved partly because of its religious, cultural and historic image. FOEME hopes to encourage environmental tourism to replace the agriculture which uses most of the water.

The river is popular with Christian pilgrims, who, for hundreds of years, come to dunk themselves in the holy waters because it is where Jesus came to be baptized by John. UNESCO may make it a world heritage site.

But if drastic changes are not made and more water is not allowed to flow, the river could dry up completely within two years, said Bromberg.

Decades of conflict between the principal users of the river – the Israelis, the Jordanians and the Syrians – have led to the crisis. The 200-km long river drains an area of 1,100 km square, but much of the water is diverted by Israel's National Water Carrier, Jordan's King Abdullah Canal and dams across tributaries into the river in Israel, Jordan and Syria.

"Each side tried to grab as much of the resources as it could without any consideration of the consequences," said Bromberg.

"It started in the Sixties with Israel stopping the flow of the upper Jordan into the lower Jordan. Syria tried to build a dam at the same time to stop water coming down the Jordan River. Jordan in the Seventies built a canal to capture the main tributary into the river. It escalated from there."

The existing problems are worsened by Amman's construction of a new dam on the Yarmuk River, the river's largest tributary.

In the past, the river's annual flow was 1.3 billion cubic meters. Today it is less than 100 million cubic meters, of which some 20% is untreated sewage. The polluted water flows into the Dead Sea, which consequently is also under threat of extinction. It has already shrunk by 30%.

Prince Hassan believes that a "green" Middle East can be achieved by creating Middle East "Marshall Plan" – from Morocco to Oman – similar to how the Western European countries helped each other after World War II.

We sit on the grassy bank of Peace Island, the small raised plateau south of Tiberias and north of Beit Shean which divides the river in two and provides a breathtaking view of the Jordan valley. Several years ago, the island was also the site of a gruesome attack by a Jordanian soldier who shot dead seven visiting young Israeli girls. A marble monument memorializes the site.

Prince Hassan explains his vision of how to achieve a green Middle East.

"Between governments and civil society, there is a huge wealth of experience," he says. "So, I do think that a regional energy and water commission – supra-national, supra-state – is the only way to take this all-important common resource out of the hands of the politicians."

According to Prince Hassan, the plan does not require peace between the countries because those involved would have regional interests in mind, not just their own country's. The plan would also help solve common problems from unemployment and poverty to energy use and farming.

"I think we have to rise above politics to address anthropolitics – the human issues," says the prince, coining a term for a new concept of politics that supersedes political differences. "Let us think globally, and act globally."

Leave aside the Arab/Israeli confilict; I do not see many senior people in the region expressing enviromental or people related concerns unless there is politicalspin off for them :(
Old 04-01-2005, 02:55 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 278
Prince Hassan always brought a cerebral take to problems. He did not posture nor " play to the gallery". Maybe that was his weakness, in a flamboyant Arab world, and I believe would also have been his strength as a Head of State.
Old 04-03-2005, 06:59 PM
papillon's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 329
I'm posting this on P. Hassan's thread, only because he has worked his entire adult life to promote understanding and dialogue among the world's faiths.

RIP, Pope John Paul II. :(

From The Jordan Times

King Expresses Deep Sorrow Over Pope's Passing

AMMAN (JT) — Jordan on Sunday remembered the late Pope John Paul II in three lights: His encouragement of Muslim-Christian dialogue, support for the Palestinian cause and opposition to the war on Iraq. His Majesty King Abdullah expressed deep grief and sorrow over the passing of John Paul II, who contributed to enhancing tolerance, dialogue and human rights as well as strengthening ties between monotheistic religions around the world.

“His Holiness devoted his life to calling for solidarity between the rich and poor countries, peace, freedom, love and alleviation of the suffering in the world,” a Royal Court statement quoted King Abdullah as saying.

“We lost an influential figure, who had tangible contributions as well as positive and firm stands on legitimate Arab issues, especially the Palestinian cause, and human principles and values, called for by Islam,” the King said.

Referring to the late Pope's 2000 visit to Jordan during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Monarch said ties between the Kingdom and the pontiff have always been “unique and distinguished.”

The King also sent a cable of condolences to the Vatican on Jordan's behalf.

And Prime Minister Faisal Fayez on Sunday announced that the national flags on government buildings will fly at half-mast for three days as of today, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

All of Jordan remembers the pontiff's visit to Jordan.

King's Adviser Akel Biltaji, who accompanied the Pope on that visit five years ago to several of Jordan's holy sites, recalls when he first met John Paul II.

“In 1998, I met the Pope in the company of His Majesty the late King Hussein during our visit to the Vatican. We told him about the discovery of the Baptism Site in Jordan and presented him with a gift,” Biltaji said.

“In 1999 during the visit to the Vatican in the company of His Majesty King Abdullah, we presented the Pope with documents about the updated renovation and construction works at the Baptism Site. Then in 2000, I accompanied the Pope during his pilgrimage to Jordan.”

Biltaji described the Pope as a “humble and prestigious person supporting efforts for the establishment of peace in the Middle East... and he truly loved Jordan.”

John Paul II started his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land with an impassioned appeal for the continuation of the peace process.

“In this area of the world there are grave and urgent issues of justice, of the rights of peoples and nations, which have to be resolved for the good of all and as a condition for lasting peace,” the pontiff said in an address upon his arrival in Amman on March 20, 2000.

“Without peace, there can be no authentic development for this region. That is why Jordan's proven commitment to securing the conditions necessary for peace is so important and praiseworthy,” the Pope said.

The late Pope also believed that the pressures on global society make it imperative that the world's religions work together for peace. “All religions must feel called to fresh efforts to cooperate in order to promote human life and its dignity,” the pontiff said in late 2000.

For HRH Prince Hassan, the moderator of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, the world's largest multireligious organisation, “the death of Pope John Paul II was an occasion for sorrow in religious communities around the world.”

Prince Hassan noted that “John Paul II exercised historic leadership in advancing goodwill and cooperation among the world's diverse religions.”

The Prince singled out with appreciation the Pope's powerful and steadfast commitment to building respectful relations among religions, citing the pontiff's visit to a mosque in Syria and his kissing of the Holy Koran as gestures of goodwill deeply appreciated by Muslims.

Prince Hassan, who accompanied the Pope to the holy site of Mount Nebo said: “The Pope maintained an abiding and learned respect for religious differences, and demonstrated in action his deep commitment to the bonds of unity shared by all peoples.”

Father Nabil Haddad of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jordan said the Pope's visit to Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territories helped further cement Christian-Muslim ties.

“Jordanian Muslims and Christians will remember the Pope's fervent support of the Kingdom's efforts for the Palestinian cause and his strong opposition to the war on Iraq,” Father Nabil said.

For his part, Father Hanna Kildani, spokesperson for the Roman Catholic bishop, said, “His Holiness firmly stood against the war on Iraq stressing that `preemptive war does not exist in Christian teachings'.”

Catholic churches in Jordan yesterday held requiem mass for the Pope's soul.

Government Spokesperson Asma Khader, meanwhile, described the Pope as a symbol of love and peace and coexistence among different cultures and civilisations.

“Pope John Paul II left behind a spiritual legacy that bore fruit and manifested in solidarity, cooperation and dialogue for resolving issues founded on the basis of justice and love,” Khader, also minister of culture, told Petra.

Also on Sunday, acting House Speaker Mamdouh Abbadi sent a cable of condolences to the Vatican embassy in Amman, describing the passing of the late Pope as a great loss of a world personality, who diligently worked for enhancing world peace.

As president of the Royal Academy for Islamic Civilisation Research (Al al Bayt Foundation), Nassereddin Assad twice had an audience with the Holy Father at the Vatican.

“The Pope welcomed me as the foundation president and my companions, expressing deep appreciation of our efforts in promoting Muslim-Christian dialogue which he described as a means for promoting peace. Pope John Paul II delivered lectures on both occasions that gave us encouragement to pursue our efforts,” Assad told The Jordan Times.

Monday, April 4, 2005
Old 04-07-2005, 03:33 PM
Humera's Avatar
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A little background info. on Princess Sarvath's Mother
'Begum' means Mrs. by the way

Begum Shaista Ikramullah [1915-2000]

Begum Shaista Ikramullah, the first female representative of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (1947), Pakistan's former Ambassador to Morocco, mother-in-law of Jordan's Crown Prince, and niece of the great leader Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, was born on July 22, 1915, at Calcutta in the prominent Suhrawardy family of West Bengal. She was educated at Calcutta and London. During that period, strict purdah environment was prevalent in the Muslim society of India. Her mother was a traditionalist while her father, an eminent surgeon and politician, was a dynamic liberal who encouraged his daughter to study.

She got married at quite a young age. Her husband was a diplomat and served as Pakistan's first Foreign Secretary. He encouraged her pursuit of modern education. She was the first Muslim woman to obtain a doctorate from the University of London in 1940. Her doctorate thesis "Development of the Urdu Novel and Short Story" was a critical survey of Urdu novel and short stories.

In 1945, Begum Ikramullah was asked by the Government of India to attend the Pacific Relations Conference. Quaid-i-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan) convinced Begum Ikramullah not to accept the offer, as he wanted her to go as the representative of the Muslim League and to speak on its behalf. Six weeks after the establishment of Pakistan, the Quaid asked Begum Ikramullah to go as a delegate to the United Nations.

Begum Shaista Ikramullah was one of the few Muslim women to have taken an active part in the Pakistan Movement. She was totally committed to the creation, and the building of Pakistan. The first legislature of Pakistan in 1947 had two women representatives, Begum Jehan Ara Shah Nawaz and Begum Shaista Ikramullah. Together with Begum Shah Nawaz, she made untiring efforts to get the "Islamic Personal Law of Shariah" approved. Her male counterparts in the legislature had certain reservations towards this law, which recognized women's right to inherit property in accordance with the Islamic Law. The law also guaranteed all citizens; male and female alike, equal pay for equal work, equality of status and equal opportunities. After protests by women both inside and outside the legislature, the bill was finally approved in 1948, and became effective in 1951 when Pakistan adopted its first constitution. She continued to play an active role in Pakistani politics in the critical years preceding the Martial Law.

Begum Ikramullah served Pakistan as a delegate to various international conferences and United Nation's Conferences. She also served as Ambassador to Morocco from 1964 to 1967.

In the late 80's, Begum Ikramullah started work on a book about the life and times of her late uncle, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. The book, "Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy: A Biography" was completed and published in 1991. Her works in the English language include "Letters to Neena", the much acclaimed "Behind the Veil" first published in 1953, and "From Purdah to Parliament" published in 1963. "Common Heritage" was her idea to improve ties between Pakistan and India by providing a platform to both Pakistanis and Indians who had lived in the Sub-continent before Partition.

She also completed her English translation of "Mirat-ul-Uroos", an Urdu classic by Deputy Nazir Ahmad, and an Urdu volume on "Kahavat aur Muhavray" but unfortunately, could not see them in print.

Begum Ikramullah often regretted that a golden era of women's struggle and achievements seemed no longer accessible to the common person and may be lost. To revive these memories, she translated her book "From Purdah to Parliament" in Urdu.

She used to contribute regularly for the magazines "Tehzeeb-i-Niswan" and "Ismat". "Koshish-i-Natamaam", a volume comprised of short stories, "Safarnama" and "Dilli ki Begamat key Muhawarey" are her other works in Urdu.

She passed away on December 11, 2000 in Karachi at the age of 85.
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Old 04-07-2005, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 278
Originally Posted by ~*~Humera~*~
A little background info. on Princess Sarvath's Mother
'Begum' means Mrs. by the way
Thank you Humera. You really are a whizz at unearthing pictures and information about Princess Sarvath. I had seen the middle picture before as it is on the cover of 'From Purdah to Parliament, 'but not the others. One point though, I had always thought that 'Begum' in its real sense was a title ( hence The Begum Aga Khan). This impression is confirmed by Chamber's Dictionary which says : Begum: A Muslim princess or a lady of rank, a deferential title given to a Muslim lady. I think like 'Madame' it has now in the modern world come to have a double meaning. For instance, the funeral service sheet of the late Grand Duchess Joesphine Charlotte read 'Madame La Grande Duchess Joesphine -Charlotte de Luxembourg'. I think after reading the autobiography, the Princess's mother was a Begum in the classic sense, more than just a 'Mrs'. :)

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