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Speeches
Speech of His Majesty King Abdullah II
At the Jordan Youth Forum 2011
Dead Sea, Jordan
14 June 2011

(Translated from Arabic)

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate


My brothers and sisters,

I am very pleased to be with you today, so as to hear from you and participate with you in this forum.

I would like to begin by thanking the organizers of this gathering, the University of Jordan and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, along with members of preparatory committee, the private companies that contributed to funding this event, and everyone who has helped render it a success.

I have followed the idea of your forum from the very beginning, since it was raised during my discussions with youth on more than one occasion. The objective was to establish a free national podium for youth groups representing various thoughts and approaches to the youth's vision of the present and future of Jordan. I was keen to make this venue a place where there are proponents and opponents, individuals with their own visions and others who seek to revisit the constants and the variables.

Thanks to God and to your efforts, the forum is taking place today. This forum is entirely yours and you are utterly free to decide the topics of deliberation and agree on the recommendations and how they should be implemented. We all agree that dialogue is a national necessity and the best means to reach understanding and concord. Civilized and constructive dialogue is our way to realise the change and reform we seek. It is the indication that our country is on the right track and that we are all partners in shouldering responsibility. We have one goal; that is to serve the interests of our homeland and its bright future, God willing.

Your job as youth is incomplete without effective participation in public life. Such participation can take two forms: the first is to spread a culture of volunteerism and community service in several fields. It is through such work that individuals are acquainted with diverse issues, problems and challenges facing their country at present and in the future. Voluntary work enriches their knowledge and experience in a way that prepares them for the other form of public participation; that is, joining national political parties that have practical and clear developmental manifestos.

Speaking of political parties, the question you have to contemplate is: What kind of political parties you seek? Do you want to see major parties representing the centrist, rightist and leftist orientations, competing in parliamentary elections and, subsequently, participating in government on the basis of platforms and the size of their representation at the Lower House? Or do you want multiple parties, small and medium-sized, as the case is in our country currently, bearing in mind that such parties have so far failed to have a strong foothold and so they enjoy no wide popular base?

The other question: What is the nature of these political parties?  Do you need parties that are solely concerned with politics? Or do you want to see parties with programmes promoting better services and development and a clear vision of how to address the problems of poverty and unemployment, improve services in the health, education and transportation fields, protect labour rights, increase the per capita income, review the taxation system and ensure justice in the distribution of development gains, among other issues? We all need to have clear answers to these questions.

It should also be clear to all that if you start now building political parties, you might need at least two or three years to render these parties mature and well enough established to make gains in legislative elections, and, subsequently, to implement their programmes on the ground. In other words, we should start now for there is no time to waste.

This is my small contribution to your forum. I hope that you debate these questions and others in these two days, so as to present a clear vision on how best to participate in public life through voluntary and partisan work, in decision making and in formulating the programs and policies that serve the present and future of Jordan.

I assure you that as far as I am concerned, your voice is heard, your say is important and your role in the present and the future is pivotal and the country needs it.

The future is yours young men and women, so shape it, not just through participation, but also through pioneering and steering the process of reform and change and build the envisioned future for you and the generations to come.

This is your responsibility, and I trust that you are up to it.

God bless you, and may He grant you success in your efforts.