Queen Rania of Jordan: Royal
05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
SHE WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE QUEEN. JUST TWO WEEKS BEFORE Jordan's beloved King Hussein died in 1999, he changed the line of succession from his brother Crown Prince Hassan to his oldest son, Abdullah. In her new position, King Abdullah II's wife, Rania, 29, is bringing style to the often staid world of Middle Eastern royalty. She is proving to be a dazzling monarch. Says designer Gianfranco Ferré, whose creations the 5'8" queen sometimes wears: "She possesses a glamor that comes from her attitude and bearing, more than from her undisputed beauty." Raised in Kuwait, Rania, who is of Palestinian descent, graduated with honors in business administration from the American University in Cairo and once worked for Apple Computer in Amman. Since becoming queen she has developed an agenda of charity and change, building on the legacy of her step-mother-in-law, Queen Noor, 48, Hussein's widow and a famous beauty in her own right. Rania heads a foundation that combats child abuse and works closely with her husband to promote Jordan's exports. "We are a partnership in every way," she told the AP last year. The queen, who friends say has little time for elaborate makeup, indulges instead in simple pleasures. She and Abdullah, 38, whom she met at an Amman party in January .993 and wed that June, dine with their subjects at the local Howard Johnson's and, having chosen not to live within the royal compound, kick back by watching Dharma & Greg and Friends in their suburban villa. The couple have two children, Prince Hussein, 5, and Princess Iman, 3, and expect their third in September. But Rania is also poised to take a role on the international stage. Her aunt Fadwa Yassin spoke for many when she told the Jerusalem Post last year, "As far as I'm concerned, she could be queen of the world, not just Jordan."