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State visit to Jordan: Friendship dinner

Speech given by Her Majesty The Queen at the friendship dinner hosted by Their Majesties during their state visit to Jordan 2 - 4 March 2020.

Your Royal Highnesses
Ladies and gentlemen

What an evening! And what a magnificent view!

It brings to mind the words of T.E. Lawrence:

"By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by the dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of the stars."

Soon, innumerable stars will appear in the sky above us – once the last rays of the sun disappear.

However, I hope there will be not too much silence tonight, as this Norwegian-Jordanian evening gets under way.

The King and I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, our hosts during these wonderful few days, and to all Jordanians – for a truly unforgettable state visit. Which also marks an anniversary: This is our state visit number 50. So what better place                 to celebrate than Jordan?

But before I continue: Dear Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen and dear ISAK! Thank you so much for the wonderful performance and sami joik we were accompanied by. The stars do not only sparkle above us – they also shine here, right in front of us. I am very much looking forward to hearing more from you, later this evening!

Since our arrival, we have had the chance to experience Jordan’s famous hospitality first hand. The days we have spent in your country have been filled with impressions we will keep in our hearts and minds forever.

This view over the Dead Sea is beautiful, almost surreal. We are at the lowest point on our planet – and yet it feels as if we are close to heaven.

Our people’s histories meet in Jordan. The caves in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found are not far from here. The discovery of the Scrolls, which contain fragments from almost every book in the Old Testament, is considered to be one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. Tomorrow, we will be visiting the ancient site of Petra, and we are very much looking forward to finally experiencing one of the seven new wonders of the world.

Religions meet in Jordan, too. Earlier today, we visited the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethany on the Jordan River – the source of the Dead Sea. At the place where John baptised Jesus, and Lazarus was brought back to life, we met Christian and Muslim leaders, engaged in important inter-religious dialogue.

And people meet in Jordan. We had the pleasure of seeing Syrian and Jordanian girls playing football together in Salt. The energy and confidence we saw in the children showed the impact that activities like these can have – an impact that goes  far beyond football. It was a reminder of the importance of creating safe spaces for children, and of empowering girls to show leadership and have fun – regardless of their origin.

History, religion, people. Jordan is a vital crossroads – an ancient meeting place. At the same time vulnerable – due to both geographical location and environmental challenges. Visiting Jordan for the first time, we have gained new perspectives on   the turbulent history of the region. At the same time, we have  also seen the great potential for growth and development in the region and for strengthening ties between the countries of the Levant and Europe.

And finally, cultures meet in Jordan.

Tonight, under the starry sky, the King and I hope to return some of the warm and generous hospitality we have received during our visit. We have the pleasure of introducing a bit of Norwegian flavour to Jordan’s rich heritage. This evening will feature elements from both our cultures — including the rich Bedouin and our Sami traditions: Traditions rooted in sustainable ways    of life – and inspirations to us all.

Cultures and traditions can be manifested in many ways – also in the way we dress. You may wonder what I – and everal members of the Norwegian delegation – wear tonight? My dress – which I am very fond of – is the festive costume from my family’s geographical origin in the south-east of Norway. It represents years and years of women’s – and men’s – creativity, craftsmanship, pride and joy. I imagine you can say  the same about the enormous diversity of traditional, beautiful and practical costumes in Jordan.

Our countries may be far apart in geography, but behind the needlework, the silver work, fabrics and patterns we find traces of shared love of our heritage. A weave of similar forms and designs – suggesting what we have in common.

We hope to encourage you all in exploring how our cultural expressions can enrich each other. We hereby invite you to join us on a visual, cultural and culinary trip to the North. A proof of our common traditions you will find on your napkin in front of you. The napkin holders presents both Beduin and Sami patterns.

Dear friends, we meet in magic Jordan.

Sharing experiences like this friendship dinner connects us and create common memories. I hope it will be a night to remember – under the stars and close to heaven. It is a great pleasure for us to welcome you all.

I wish you a wonderful evening!



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