Queen Rania Attends Women in the World Summit, Sits for Live Q&A

October 21, 2015

During her most recent visit to London, United Kingdom, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah sat down for a Q&A with Ms. Zainab Salbi, Editor-at-large, Women in the World, at the Women in the World Summit.

During the opening ceremony, attended by approximately 900 people and held at Cadogan Hall, Her Majesty watched the opening performance by Ms. Michaela DePrince , Former Sierra Leone war Orphan & globally renowned ballerina, followed by opening remarks by Ms. Tina Brown, Founder and CEO, Tina Brown Live Media, Women in the World.

Later Her Majesty took the stage and sat for the Q&A session with Ms. Salbi, also the host of The Nida’s show and founder of the Nida’a Al Nissa Productions. During the segment, and in reference to the refugees' situation in host countries, "hope and help in short supply” urging the international community to support host countries, such as Jordan.

During the discussion Her Majesty quoted His Majesty Kind Abdullah II and said, “His Majesty once said that Jordan is stuck between a rock and a very hard place” - at the time, he was referring to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iraq. Queen Rania analogized the Arab world as if it had underwent “series of earthquakes” and that Jordan is still feeling the aftershocks but has been able to withstand them, “in fact more than just withstand them, we have become the lifeline and a shelter for many from the region.”

Her Majesty explained that crisis had tremendous impact on Jordan’s public finances, infrastructure on its limited resources. “Jordan is not a rich country and this is not our first wave of refugees,” said the Queen.

Adding, “The magnitude of this crisis has really overwhelmed our capacity to cope. And it has exacerbated the situation for the poorest segments of our society who are seeing prices rise, rents go up, jobs are becoming harder to get by.”

Putting things into perspective, Her Majesty explained how Jordan currently has 140,000 Syrian children in its schools. While schools are trying to cope with so many students; the classrooms have become overcrowded and teachers are struggling to cope, which is affecting not just the Syrian refugees, but Jordanians students as well.

“This crisis has impacted Jordan in a tremendous way, in every aspect of life.”

Expressing the Syrian and Jordanian frustration with the status quo, Her Majesty advised that Jordan and the international community have to cope with the current situation and to fix it, but not just short-term, saying “we have to change gears; it is not just about urgent humanitarian aid, it is about long term development .”

Calling upon the international community to increase humanitarian aid and funding, Her Majesty expressed that there is extreme shortage in financing saying, “Only 40% of the funding appeal to help host Syrian refugees in our region has been met.”

Conveying her pride in Jordanians, she said, “I am very proud of the way Jordanians have managed to deal with this situation. They have dealt with it with a great deal of perseverance and pragmatism. And quite lot compassion: a Jordanian won’t turn a neighbor in need away.”

“At the end of the day, the situation is unsustainable. We are reaching our breaking point. Because, ultimately, we cannot share what we don’t have. And we don’t have that much at this stage.”
Her Majesty commented on how she views the current situation and said as she looks at conflicts whether it is in Syria, Libya or Yemen, or Iraq, Palestine, or Sudan… Children’s education hits closest to home saying, “You know there are 13.7 million children that are out of school in those countries. It’s the one thing that worries me most.”

Adding, “As a mother, I understand how important it is for children to have the reassurance, the routine and the ritual - that’s what gives them a sense of security. Our childhood experiences fundamentally affect who we become as adults – whether we are secure or insecure, confident or not confident, resilient or not resilient, it all starts with childhood.”

“The least we have to do is get them in schools because school in a situation like this is like a haven; it can provide a sense of security, it is the basis for reconciliation and recovery it can build resilience within each and every child,” added Her Majesty. 
“If there is one thing we have to urge people to do – education is what we have to invest in for this generation, otherwise we risk a bleaker future.”

Salbi later commented on statement, “Let’s drop the first 'I’ in ISIS”, a statement Her Majesty made earlier this year during a Q&A with Arianna Huffington at the World Post conference, also in London.

Her Majesty elaborated on that statement and said, “It is a very dangerous thing if we keep thinking of ISIS as Islamic because there is nothing Islamic about them as relating to Islam then we’re really sort of playing into their narrative.” Adding that the so-called ISIS are trying “to cloak their actions with the legitimacy of Islam, they have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims; they have devastated more Arab cities than they have hit western targets.”

“These people would like to package themselves as being the representatives of Islam and the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world – but they’re not.”

Her Majesty called upon moderates of all religions to unite and align properly in order to defeat them, elaborating she said, “this is a war, not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between moderates of all religions… against extremists… they want to put the west against Islam, and they want to put Islam against the rest of the world.”

Discussing the issue of extremists’ propaganda tactics and use of social media, the Queen said that one of the biggest factors in the future of war is narrative, “Unfortunately, their narrative is the dominant narrative; unfortunately, they are dictating global perceptions about this issue,” she said.

“That narrative… creating a huge chasm between Muslims and non-Muslims and that chasm is being filled with mistrust, intolerance, and suspicion, and all that is just going to weaken our world further,” added the Queen.

Highlighting that the Internet is a key frontline Her Majesty said, “Groups like Daesh … have changed the landscape of warfare, and it is unfamiliar terrain for many governments. Non-state actors are much more nimble and pragmatic and able to adapt much more than bureaucratic states and institutions.”

Urging governments worldwide to partner with the private sector and young people, adding that by bringing them onboard, the credible voices get amplified and extremists are exposed for who they are.

Her Majesty also urged the west to not “buy into the stereotypes” that extremists create through their propaganda, and that the Muslim world has to work even harder at trying to get back its message.

“We can’t let them be the authors of our story; we have to reclaim our religion and speak for ourselves and not let anyone else speak for us.”

During the discussion on the power of social media and power of narrative, Her Majesty said that social media has been a very useful tool for her to get real-time feedback and that it helps her understand what’s on people’s minds and to read about various online initiatives and current affairs.

For the bigger picture of reclaiming the narrative, Queen Rania, also, urged social media users to stay authentic to who they are under the pressure that it puts on people to project an image that doesn’t truly represent them,

“Staying authentic and genuine is very, very, important when you’re on social media. Don’t let it drive you and just be yourself. “

The Women in the World Summit is an annual summit launched in 2010 by Tina Brown. Her Majesty participated in 2010 in an interview with Katie Couric and in 2014 in an interview with Tina Brown.
Women in the World expanded outside of the US for the first time in 2013 with a forum held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in 2014 inaugurated salons and forums in other US cities, including Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, and San Antonio.
The Women in the World first Middle East summit was held in Dubai in February 2015, with Sheikh Nahyan Mabarak Al-Nahayan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, acting as guest of honor.
The October Summit will be the first to be held in London, and another Summit is planned in November in New Delhi.