|The Hashemite Family members at the Great Arab Revolt Centennial Ceremony|
Sharif Hussein Bin Ali, well known as the leader of the Great Arab Revolt and the Sharif of Mecca, was born in Ottoman Istanbul in 1853. Though well acquainted with imperial politics, Sharif Hussein spent a significant portion of his life among the bedouin Arabs of the Hijaz, immersing himself in the political life of Arabia. In 1908, the Ottomans, recognising his influence in the region, appointed him Emir (Prince) of Mecca.
As Ottoman policies grew more oppressive after the coup of the “Young Turks”, Sharif Hussein earned support among Arabs by opposing Istanbul's totalistic policies in the Hijaz. Some historians say that, even then, he was preparing for Arab independence. Indeed, the idea that the Arabic-speaking people were a nation, deserving of independent recognition, is often thought to have originated with Sharif Hussein.
In 1916, Sharif Hussein allied the Arabs with British forces, leading, along with his sons, Abdullah and Faisal, numerous tribes from the Hijaz in a revolt that liberated the Levant from Ottoman control. Bearing the Hashemite name and tradition of the Aal Al Bayt, Sharif Hussein was the central figure in the revolt, earning the title, “King of the Arabs.” After this victory, however, European powers failed to honour their commitment to support Arab sovereignty and instead, installed colonial rule throughout the Levant.
Sharif Hussein died in Amman in 1931.
King Abdullah I and the Founding of Jordan
The first king and founder of the state of Jordan was born in 1882 in Mecca. Like his father, Abdullah began life as a representative of the Ottoman court but his prestigious education and exposure to Arab tribal customs soon made him aware of the growing nationalist sentiment among his people.
The future king led a modest existence, often staying with leaders of different sects and sectors of society, developing relationships with them. He spent much of his time amongst the local bedouin tribes. In 1921, he organised his first government in Amman, thus establishing the Emirate of Transjordan.
For the next thirty years, Emir Abdullah concentrated his efforts on state-building. In 1928, the Prince oversaw the country’s first legislative council and the drafting of a constitution. One year later, he held the first parliamentary elections. On 22 March 1946, Transjordan secured its independence, and Abdullah was crowned king later that year.
More on the 70th anniversary of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan here.