Queen Rania

BARRY IVERSON for TIME

ROYAL REFORMER: As part of her campaign for Arab women's rights, Rania helped Jordanian women secure greater representation in parliament

An unlikely voice of reason sounded in the Middle East following al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Women's participation in politics is still something of a novelty in the region, and this voice was female. Moreover, it issued from an improbably beautiful Queen. It would have been all too easy to dismiss Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan as a creation of the Western media, eager for sympathetic interlocutors from the Muslim world. But her brave stand on issues like Arab reform quickly established her as far more than that.

In 1999, while still in...

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