We have to create about 5 million jobs a year in the Arab World, says Queen Rania of Jordan
Source: BI-ME and CNN , Author: CNN
Posted: Sat October 3, 2009 12:07 am

JORDAN. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour presents a new live global interview programme, Amanpour. The programme airs Monday to Friday at 11.00 pm UAE.

In Friday's programme, Amanpour interviewed Queen Rania of Jordan. The following is a transcript of the interview.

 AMANPOUR:  Welcome to the program, Your Majesty.  Thank you for joining us here. 
 
I wanted to talk a little bit about what you're doing here in New York right now.   You went up to visit a school in Harlem.  What's your main mission now?
 
QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN:  Well, this is the time of year where you have the United Nations meetings and you have the One Goal (ph) initiatives, and around that, a lot of causes.  And my - the cause that I have been working on most is global education.  I have been working at in at home in Jordan and around the world.
 
So, you know, it's really to highlight the importance of education.  It's the (INAUDIBLE) goals.  And we have some ways before we reach that goal, because today, there are 75 million children who are still out of school.  And it would cost the worldUS $11 billion to get them into the schools. 
 
And although that sounds like a lot of money, when you really think about it in global terms, it's how much the war in Afghanistan and Iraq cost in one month.  It's how much Americans spend on their pets in three months.  It's how much (INAUDIBLE) spends on ice cream in one year...
 
AMANPOUR:  So, what do you think we should do...
 
QUEEN RANIA:  It's actually loose change.  And the thing is, everybody agrees that education is important.  But what we need to do is give it a sense of urgency.
 
AMANPOUR:  So, let's show your promo, because you do the One Goal precisely for this...
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Right.
 
AMANPOUR:  Let's just look at what you're saying about the need for education. 
  
(Video clip)  
  
AMANPOUR:  How do you actually translate what you're saying there into action?  How do you do it?  I know you're partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative, you're partnering with many other individuals and other groups.  How do you actually do it?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Well, first of all, it's - we have to add a sense of urgency.  Everybody agrees that education is important.  But we need to add action to that.  And to understand that education is a lifeline.  It is a matter of life and death.  It does save lives.
 
So, for example, a girl who goes to school - for every five years of schooling, her child survival rates go up by 40%.  A child who goes to school is 50% less likely to die of HIV/AIDS.  So, it does save lives. 
 
You know, so we the people need to take action.  So with One Goal, there is the World Cup that is taking place in Africa next year, the world's most popular sport.  So, we want fans of the Goal to really chant and cheer and demand for world leaders to fulfil their commitments that they made to the children of the developing world. 
 
AMANPOUR:  So, this is like a rallying cry rather than asking for schools to rebuild or money to be poured in?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  This is really trying to galvanize popular support, because out of popular support comes political will to act.  So, we're hoping to gather almost 30 million names or signatures from people all over the world to try to really make sure that our leaders fulfil their commitments and that, you know, they commit to fair play for the children of the developing world.
 
AMANPOUR:  You said this shocking statistic - 75 million children are not in school, are denied education.
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Right.
 
AMANPOUR:  Another statistic is that one in every four girls does not know how to read.  And you talk about mobilizing political action on behalf of these people, of these children.  Are you getting more and more political in what you're doing?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Well, you mentioned girls' education.  And I'd really like to emphasize that, because investment in girls' education is probably the best way that they country can move forward.  It really does transform societies.  The benefits of educating girls cascade over many other sectors in a country.  A girl who's educated gains self-confidence, and she gets married later in life, has a family.  She earns more income and spends that income on the education and health of her own family and contributes to her community.  So, the benefits are wide-ranging, and it's important to really focus on girls' education.
 
AMANPOUR:  But how difficult is it?  Look, the U.N. D.P. comes out regularly with reports.  They've done about five on the Arab world.  And the latest one is just as damning as the previous ones, in other words saying that despite the wealth and the human potential in the Arab world, the Arab world has still not made its people free, still not made its people rich, still not made its people safe.  How do you think that can change?  And can this education goal that you have change that?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Well, actually, in the Middle East and north Africa region, we are probably one of the highest spenders on education.  And as a result, we've achieved very high - very good results in terms of gender equality in education and enrolment, total enrolment (INAUDIBLE).  But what we have to focus on is the quality of the education.  It's not enough to get children into schools.  It's what they get out of schools that matters.  And we have to prepare them for the workforce.
 
So, the challenges I would say that we face in the Arab world are more about creating jobs for the young people.  You know, we have to create about 5 million jobs a year.  And youth unemployment is costing us around US$25 billion in all of the 11 Arab countries.
 
AMANPOUR:  It's about 50  million new jobs have to be created by 2020.  That's in 11 years.
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Just to prevent the rising unemployment, we need 3.5 million jobs for our young people.  And if they don't -- that requires reform across the board, you know, whether it's economic reform, political reform, social reform.  At the end of the day, what young people want from their leaders is the ability to dream and the hope and tools to be able to fill those dreams.  And that requires creating jobs.
 
AMANPOUR:  So, you talk about social reform and hope.  You are now a big presence on social media, whether it be Twitter, whether it be Facebook.  I heard you have something in the region of more than 800,000 followers.  We're just going to show some of the pages of Facebook and Twitter and the things that you're doing on there.
 
What are you using those particular networks for?  Why on Twitter and Facebook?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Social media is great for social change, and it's a great way for me to really reach out to people, to raise awareness about certain issues, and to really rally support.  So...
 
AMANPOUR:  Do you know who you're reaching?  Are they people in your own country?  Are they people in the Arab world?  Are they Western?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Well, it depends which media I'm using.  And most of the time...
 
AMANPOUR:  Your Twitter account.
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Well, the Twitter - I mean, I can't tell exactly where the 850,000 people are from.  But, you know, most of these issues require global awareness anyway, so, it's really given me an opportunity to listen to people's minds, to see what's - to gain insight on and perspective on how people are thinking, and also to really make these issues that matter to me known among people so that you can galvanize people towards action.
 
AMANPOUR:  Do you know, when I first met you, we did a profile when you were -- it was more than nine years ago.  And I remember jumping in your car that you were driving to go and pick up your son, now Crown Prince of Jordan, from his school.  We're going to show this picture that you put out -- one of the pictures on Twitter.  There's your son between you and your husband.  He has grown.
 
QUEEN RANIA:  He has.  He's almost taller than me...
 
AMANPOUR:  Well, you did say on that picture that as long as you have a little height over him, you remain the authority. 
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Right.  And I'm losing that authority very quickly. 
 
AMANPOUR:  So, how do you teach a young boy who's going to be king about social reform?  About equality with women?  About all the social change that you want to bring?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  You don't necessarily teach, you demonstrate.  You know, I think it's important for him to see us living by those values, to incorporate those values in our everyday life.   For me, you know, it's not a preparation course.  It's a way of living. 
 
He -- the most important thing for me is for him to get great grades in school right now, to have normal relations as much as possible with his friends and to be exposed to some of those issues in our country.  To understand, how, you know, how we want to see Jordan, what our vision is.  How we want to move forward.  How to treat people with respect. 
 
Why it's -- and it's the arguments.  They're very compelling.  When we talk about women's empowerment, that's a very compelling argument, not only with morals and human, but also an economic argument.  You know, in the Arab world, we're sailing at half-mast.  We are underutilizing one of the most important resources we have.  So, you know, if he sees the argument and why we need women to be in the workplace, then he'll be one of the biggest supporters.
 
AMANPOUR:  You know, on this social media, you have a different profile than often you have when you speak about some of the other crucial issues in the world.  I just want to show another picture that you put up.  It was of you and your husband, King Abdullah, and you said, "OK, I'm fine (ph), but you gotta admit, my king is kind of cool."  That's on Twitter.
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Yes. 
 
AMANPOUR:  (INAUDIBLE).  Who are you telling that to?  What are you trying to say?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  You know, for me, it's not just about -- there's obviously the issue of rallying people behind causes, etc.  But I also feel I am part of a community.  You know?  So, you feel like you make virtual friends.  And...
 
AMANPOUR:  Do you feel isolated?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  It's possible to sometimes feel isolated.  Certainly, it's not easy for people to really speak their minds because they feel they have to be formal with me or -- or they don't want to really tell me what they really think.  You know? 
 
But being on a venue like Twitter allows you to really hear -- get more information, hear what people have to say unedited, you know?  And it's -- I feel like I'm part of a community and I'm making friends with these people.  
 
AMANPOUR:  So there's that personal aspect, and you trying to... 
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Absolutely.  There is a personal aspect to it, and there's the work aspect to it. 
 
AMANPOUR:  And now, there's also the more political but also concerned about the people aspect.  And we're going to show what you said about the people of Gaza in January of this year. 
 
QUEEN RANIA:  The children of Gaza, the dead and the barely living.  Their mothers, their fathers, are not acceptable collateral damage.  Their lives do matter.  Their loss does count.  They are not divisible from our universal humanity.  No child is.

AMANPOUR:  So, that was about the war in Gaza earlier.  Do you think -- and I'm going to switch now to hard politics -- that the new administration of President Obama, you've just been at the U.N. -- does it have a chance to reinject life into, really, the dead peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis? 
 
QUEEN RANIA:  The question is, do we have a choice not to?  I mean, can the world for this conflict to keep - I mean, it's a disgrace to humanity that there is still this occupation, that there's an entire population that's still dehumanized, that's still under occupation and suffering.  This video that you showed was an aftermath of Gaza.  If you look at Gaza today, the life of people there, (INAUDIBLE) people trapped.  And the collective punishment of blockade.  One out of two people living - one out of actually - one out of two unemployed and seven out of 10 living in poverty. 
 
That's not acceptable.  You know, you look at Gaza today, it still looks like the site of an earthquake.
 
AMANPOUR:  Do you think -- for instance, the Jordanian monarchy has traditionally been in the forefront of the peace process.  Do you think - do you and your husband after 10 years now being king and queen, feel that there's any chance for progress to relieve this?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  You know, the longer this process takes, the more determined we are.  Because we understand that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is in the national interest, not only of theirs but of ours and the United States and of the whole international community. 
 
And what we felt from President Obama yesterday was a reaffirmation of the United States engagement and commitment to the peace process.  And he very clearly said that we need to move beyond just starting peace negotiations.  We need to move towards final, permanent-status negotiations.  And it's the sense of urgency that we need.  The peace process cannot remain hostage to short-term politics, personal agendas. 
 
We really need to look at the long-term future of our region.  Where does Israel want to be in 10, 20 years' time, you know?  What's the situation going to be for the Palestinians?  We need to address the concerns of both sides.  And Israel's security ultimately depends on it being accepted into the region.  It does not come from armed force or from barrier walls.  It needs to be accepted.  And for that to happen, you know, the right of the Palestinians for statehood has to be achieved.
 
AMANPOUR:  What do you think that you've learned and achieved in 10 years on the Jordanian throne?
 
QUEEN RANIA:  I've been exposed to so many things, and you know, so many issues.  My main concern now is the development of human capital.  At the end of the day, the most important thing is to reach people's not only hearts, but their minds.  And, you know, when I look at some of the radicalization of some of the Arab countries and some of the Muslim countries, it's because extremists maybe do a better job of acting on their beliefs than we do.
 
Moderates tend to be complacent.  So, they've ventured into territory that we have left vacant, and that is young people's minds.  So, we need to really act more on our beliefs.  We need to provide content for young people.  What is it that being moderate really stands for?  What can you get in your future?  Can you fulfil your dreams?
 
And so, you know, education is where it all starts.  I think in the classroom is where we need to begin to give our young people an education that carries them for life, allows them to be critical thinkers and debaters and creators, problem solvers.  Those are the things that provide people with the equal chance to make something out of their lives.
 
AMANPOUR:  And on that note, thank you so much for joining us.  Queen Rania of Jordan.
 
QUEEN RANIA:  Thank you.

Note.  Combining Christane Amanpour's experience in the field, sharp intelligence and extraordinary depth of knowledge the show will set the agenda for a new global conversation with global leaders, heads of state, cultural icons and uncommon voices. 

Guests have included Afghan President Hamid Karzai; U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke; Prime Minister of Spain Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero; NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen; UN Middle East Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen; Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor; Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now serving as Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East; President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa
 

 

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