Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan was interviewed on Monday in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, on stage at the Google Zeitgeist.
The Queen spoke to the Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc., Mr Eric Schmidt about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, the popularity of populist parties, education in the Middle East and the backlash against Western globalisation.
Queen Rania has been a passionate advocate for the Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland. Speaking on this topic, she told Schmidt that the world must “stop thinking of refugees and migrants as a problem and accept the movement of people as the new norm, a by-product of our current global order.” She added that the worldwide humanitarian response to such situations needs to be upgraded to fit with the “21st-century crises with innovative solutions.”
The popularity of populist parties have been rising worldwide with that has also come with an increase in Islamophobia. She expressed her concerns with this by saying, “If we let fear morph into a wholesale rejection of Muslims and Islam and let if factor into our policies and politics, we would be playing right into the hands of extremists, at a very critical time.”
Queen Rania emphasised that politicians and supporters of these parties use fear in relation to things that seem foreign as a way to force separation. She cited politicians who use Muslims and immigrants as scapegoats as well as “nostalgic slogans” that only provide “easy substitutes to real solutions.”
Her Majesty also spoke about education in the region. Poignantly, the Queen said, “The future of an entire generation of children hangs in the balance. That is the real crisis in our region.” She added on Twitter, “13 mil. children in the MENA region are out of school. A whole generation’s future is hanging in the balance at this year’s Google Zeitgeist.”
The Queen said that Jordan was a test bed for education and that a model must be created to tackle the challenges of today. According to the press release sent out by Her Majesty’s press department, the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development “will be piloting contextualised and localised education interventions at scale, with a focus on innovation and learning impact.”
It was also announced yesterday that the foundation and Google.org were going to be joining forces with the latter providing a three million USD grant. Google will be creating “an online learning platform for Arabic open educational resources (OERs) targeting K-12 students and their educators across the Middle East and North Africa region.”
Regarding globalisation, Her Majesty both praised and critiqued its impact across the world. She said that it has done much for the world with “massive benefits,” but at the same time, it has resulted in many people being left behind. She believes that globalisation and its role need to be re-examined.
Queen Rania closed by praising Jordan, “We have defied all odds. Jordan is not only just standing; it’s trying to provide an example.” She said the country is a source of “optimism and hope” for her, and it seems many across the region and the world, as well.