The Jordanian royal opens up about Trump, Jerusalem and her hopes for the future in a rare TV interview.
HM Queen Rania al Abdullah has long been a vocal campaigner for human rights—but her latest address might be her most powerful yet.
The Jordanian royal sat down with TV host Tania Bryant for the latest episode of CNBC Conversation, and discussed the Rohingya refugee crisis and US President Donald Trump’s stance on Palestine in the segment.
The royal, who made a heart-wrenching visit to Rohingya refugees living in Bangladeshi camps last October, revealed her belief that education is the key to tackling “extremist thought and hopelessness”.
“We have over 15 million children, in my part of the world, who don’t attend school, because of conflict and displacement,” Queen Rania told the news channel.
“You know more than I do that jobs and opportunities and hope are the strongest antidotes to extremism. And education is a prerequisite for hope, and so we really need to take urgent action, and because we can’t wait.”
The royal cited Edraak, a free online educational platform developed by the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development with funding from Google, as a way to make a difference.
“For me, [education] is the most important thing. It is the game changer. It is the thing that can change the trajectory for the Arab world, and… tip the scales towards a more hopeful future for us all,” she added.
“I always say, a child that’s denied an education isn’t just a tragedy for that child. It leaves the rest of us vulnerable, because, as you know now, conflict is mobile. A problem, anywhere in the world, can reach our doorstep.”
The royal also touched on the refugee situation in Jordan, which has taken in 1.3 million people displaced by war and violence, saying it has “had a devastating impact on our country”.
“I’m extremely proud of the Jordanian people, the patience and generosity that they’ve shown, but it also makes me sad that they’ve had to pay such a heavy price, because of the global inaction,” Queen Rania said.
“This is a humanitarian issue and it’s therefore a global responsibility. It is not the responsibility of one single region, or one country, like Jordan, which is really in no position to go it alone, in the face of such global apathy.”
The royal added that “countries have always benefitted from diversity”, urging nations to embrace a mentality of openness.
“Otherwise, we’ll just be limping from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of heartbreak and broken lives behind, and I think that that’s not to anybody’s benefit.”
When quizzed by Bryant on President Trump’s approach to immigration in the US, stating that “shunning people away, based on their nationality, or their background, is something that will only hurt the country”.
“I know that President Trump is very focused on the economy, and on making lives better for all Americans, and I think part and parcel of that is embracing talent wherever it comes from.”
Queen Rania added that Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “renders the United States a biased broker”.
“We need to go back to the building of the trust. Jerusalem should be a city of hope for everyone. It is a symbol of peace, for Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.”
The royal also touched on Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, adding that to see her “associated with such brutality and cruelty is really sad”.
“She’s denying those people the very freedoms that she fought so hard for, and sacrificed so much for. So, if she wants to be on the right side of history, she needs to stand up and speak out, and really take a position on this,” Queen Rania said.
However, amid political turmoil, the royal expressed hope for the region in the CNBC interview, stating that “it’s important to focus on the good side”.
“It’s time for us to get off this destructive arc of crisis and conflict that we’re on, and to really start thinking differently, in our region and towards our region,” HM said.
“You know, a kind of thinking where you define winning as closing that human dignity deficit. Where you measure success by the number of jobs created, opportunity, productive innovations. Not political influence.
“So, when I look at my region, I feel hopeful not for what is, but for what can be, if we take the right policies, and we adopt a different mentality.”
Images: Supplied/CNBC and Tania Bryer