Jordan gears up for Prince Hussein and Rajwa Al Saif's royal wedding

King Abdullah's son will marry his Saudi fiancee on Thursday

Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein and Rajwa Al Saif will be married on June 1.  Photo: Royal Hashemite Court
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Jordanian flags and pictures of Crown Prince Hussein are festooned along the highway that connects Amman’s airport to the centre of the city.

They are part of preparations in the capital to receive guests for his wedding on Thursday to Saudi architect Rajwa Al Saif.

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It will be one of the highest profile events in Jordan for more than two decades.

State television said the wedding would be attended by “heads of state and crown princes and figures from friendly and brotherly countries". Some of them have already arrived in Amman, it said.

The wedding will put an international spotlight on the aid-dependent kingdom, which has been spared the instability that has marked the Arab Levant since the demise of the Ottoman empire more than a century ago.

Prince Hussein is the eldest of King Abdullah's four children.

On Wednesday the king held a dinner on ahead of the wedding at the grounds of Raghadan, the oldest of several royal palaces in Amman.

Four thousand were invited and they were all male, as is the tradition in Jordan for dinners hosted by the father of the groom.

"Our joy is complete with your presence," the king told the dinner party, which was mostly comprised of present and former officials, as well as tribal figures and members of the security forces.

In March, the King's eldest daughter, Princess Iman, married Jameel Thermiotis, a Venezuelan of Greek descent who works in finance in New York.

Economic challenges

The Hashemite monarchy has ruled Jordan since the country’s inception as a British protectorate in 1921.

The kingdom's per capita income is $4,000 a year and the economy has been stagnant for more than a decade. Unemployment is officially at 23 per cent, down from a 24 per cent high two years ago.

More than 60 per cent of the population is under 30, the age group of the Crown Prince, who was born in 1994. His future wife comes from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia.

They are about the same age and Ms Al Saif is related on her mother’s side to Saudi King Salman.

Ties between Jordan and Saudi Arabia have improved in the past year after differences over several Middle East issues, which were exacerbated during the Donald Trump presidency.

In a rare comment on his private life, Prince Hussein said at a seminar this month that an unidentified school friend introduced him to Ms Al Saif and that he considers himself to be “very lucky".

When he was born in 1994, Jordan was ruled by the late King Hussein, who died in 1999. King Abdullah, the current monarch, was a commander in the military.

King Hussein’s funeral was attended by then-US president Bill Clinton and leaders of most world powers.

They came to pay their respects for a man who ruled for almost five decades.

It is the first time that a king holds a wedding for his son while his son is the crown prince
Muntaha Abdullat, expert on the Hashemite dynasty

King Abdullah inherited the crown in 1999 and in 2012 appointed Hussein as crown prince.

The position had been vacant since 2004, when it was held by the King’s now estranged brother, Prince Hamzah.

No invitation list has been released for the Crown Prince’s wedding, which is expected to start on Thursday afternoon.

But US first lady Jill Biden, and King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, who were in Jordan on an official visit this year, have confirmed that they will be attending.

The UK's Prince William and his wife Catherine are also expected to attend.

"The event will be important in the history of Jordan," said Muntaha Abdullat, a specialist on the Hashemites who led the documentation department at the royal palace.

"It is the first time that a king holds a wedding for his son while his son is the crown prince."

Those invited will first gather in Zahran, a palace where King Hussein wed the first of his four wives in the 1950s.

A convoy consisting mainly of red Royal Guard Land Rovers and BMW motorcycles will escort Prince Hussein and Ms Al Saif to a reception at another palace on the outskirts of Amman, where the king lives.

People will be allowed to watch from the pavement as the couple travel through the western, more affluent part of the city.

It will be a chance for some to catch a glimpse of the couple who could one day become king and queen.

Updated: June 01, 2023, 6:37 AM