On 7 February 1999, in the forty-sixth year of his reign, King Hussein died, after a long struggle with cancer. Just two weeks before his death, Hussein had named Abdullah, his 37-year-old, half-British eldest son, as his heir apparent, passing over his (Hussein’s) younger brother al-Hassan, who had been Crown Prince since 1965. Abdullah, who had been commander of Jordan’s Special Forces and was married to Rania – a Palestinian Jordanian who had been amongst those who returned from Kuwait after the 1990-1991 crisis – succeeded to the throne the day his father passed away.
King Abdullah has maintained Jordan’s traditional stances, internationally and regionally. He has shown more interest than his father in economic affairs, vigorously encouraging free-market policies, including significant privatization of state assets.