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Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Austrian public school visit

Queen Rania visits an Austrian public school that teaches Islam

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - VIENNA) On a one-day working trip to Vienna, and with the aim of promoting cross-cultural dialogue, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah visited an Austrian public school that teaches Islam as part of the school curriculum.

Accompanied by Austrian First Lady Dr. Margot Klestil-Loffler, Queen Rania attended a religion class on Islam at Affentl. Hauptschule, and joined in a discussion with students on the Islamic faith and its basic principles of compassion and tolerance.

Queen Rania also dropped in on a geography class at the school, where students are studying about Jordan using in-class computers as learning tools.

The Queen participated in the students' presentation on the Kingdom, highlighting its rich heritage, well-known tourist attractions, natural beauty, and modern development in line with global advances.

At the school, Queen Rania also met with its Director, as well as with members of the City and District School Administrations who briefed the Queen on the Austrian public education system.

Earlier in the day on Monday, Queen Rania had conveyed the regards of His Majesty King Abdullah to Austrian President Dr. Thomas Klestil and the Austrian First Lady, who received the Queen at the Office of the Federal President in Hofburg Palace.

The Austrian First Lady accompanied the Queen throughout her working visit to Vienna. Prior to her departure from the Austrian capital, and with the aim of learning from the Austrian experience in children's museums, Queen Rania visited Zoom Children's Museum.

The Queen toured the various exhibits and sections of Austria's first interactive children's museum, getting a firsthand look at the Artist Atelier, which aims to foster creativity in children, and Zoom Ocean, which enables children to interactively explore the ocean environment.

The Queen also visited the innovative Zoom lab, which teaches children to deal creatively with production processes, widening their sense of perception.

The Queen also received a briefing Tuesday on the pioneering initiative by the museum's Director, Ms. Claudia Haas, and by Mr. Wolfgang Waldner, the Director of Vienna's Museums Quarter, which houses the children's museum.

Queen Rania is establishing the Kingdom's first interactive children's museum, the National Children's Museum of Jordan, which is scheduled to be fully operational by the year 2003.

This non-profit, independent establishment aims to enhance children's learning and support their educational, artistic, scientific, historical, cultural, and social development.

Also part of her working visit to Vienna, the Queen Monday attended an annual charity event in support of underprivileged children, organized by the Austrian non-profit organization Hilfswerk.

Proceeds from Monday's fund-raiser, which brought together 250 individuals, will benefit 10,000 children from countries around the world, including refugees in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Hilfswerk Austria, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, is a branch of ?sterreichisches Hilfswerk--one of Austria's leading service providers in the field of health, family, and social services.

In addition to undertaking assistance projects for the elderly and ailing in Austria, Hilfswerk also provides international humanitarian and development aid to individuals who have lost their homes due to armed conflicts or environmental catastrophes.

In a written message, Queen Rania thanked the organization for its efforts supporting children and families in need, especially refugees.

"I have no doubt that we can achieve the best for our citizens by forging partnerships that will guarantee a safe, secure, and enabling environment for them," the Queen wrote.

Speaking at the function Monday, Austrian Minister of Interior Dr. Ernst Strasser described Queen Rania as the "Queen of Hearts," paying tribute to her for her commitment in supporting underprivileged children around the world.

"Many people already call you the Queen of Hearts--and they are right. Your presence gives us...the incentive to increase our efforts to achieve more justice and humanity," he said.

Also speaking Monday evening was Hilfswerk President Ambassador Franz Ceska, as well as Hilfswerk Managing Director Ms. Heidi Burkhart who highlighted some of the organization's international projects in fifty countries across the globe.

Plans are already underway for Hilfswerk to undertake joint sustainable development projects in the Kingdom with the Jordan River Foundation. In early December, the Austrian organization will be working with the Jordan River Foundation to support families in need through the distribution of humanitarian assistance.