Sultan Abdullah II’s property and staff has grown to roughly two-thirds of the capital, Amman, officials say
King Abdullah II of Jordan is a man of the people, giving nearly half of his income to a charitable foundation, seeking Syrian refugees as neighbors, and building a cash contribution. But you might not expect that to his official residence in the capital of Amman.
The king’s fortified country home in Amman is a multi-faceted edifice filled with expensive fittings, cars, staff and an occasional palace guard. While most visitors barely recognize it, visitors of the ruler’s palace once did. That was when the king lived with his family on the third and final floor.
The stuccoed building is roughly 9,000 square feet, with a pool, massage spa, and chapel in addition to living and dining spaces, offices, and a garage for about half a dozen cars.
The palace and the palace in the basement may be two separate buildings, but they are linked by five corridors, with the formal and informal gathering areas serving as the chief focus of attention.
This deeply embedded monarch carries the weight of the monarchy, and not just his inherited entourage. He often divides his time between the country of his birth, where he’s been crowned monarch for about a decade and a half, and his home in Amman, the most important place in his kingdom.
“Amman is the nerve center of the kingdom,” said Prince Mahnaza Hadid, a Jordanian activist and humanitarian who used to live in the palace as an ambassador for the British aid organization Oxfam. “It’s where the king lives, where he spends most of his time and where he convenes the most important decision-making bodies in the country.”
The king’s personal residence is more than double what other monarchs can afford in Jordan. This dramatic property includes a three-story penthouse, with two private entry ways, extra-tall doors, a third main entrance and shutters in the balconies.
One floor has stucco walls to protect the buildings outdoor gardens, which neighbors are prohibited from prying onto, and protected by iron gates and steel wires.
The green grounds around the building are covered in plants and flowers, and various wildlife grazing in the hills nearby.
There are approximately twenty rooms in the palace. In recent years, the palace has added a screening room, a state dining room, as well as several large bedrooms and one queen-sized suite for the king.
Inside, ornate carved wooden furnishings line the floors and ceilings, and elegant earthenware has been crafted throughout, with mounted sea creatures as centerpiece.
The king’s staff is an impressive unit. There are nearly 500 employees at the palace, as well as a massive staff of security, maintenance and private chef staff for the residence.
Unlike other so-called state houses in Jordan, however, there has been no use of taxpayer money to fully renovate or to buy an American-style or European-style palace. The palace has been enclosed in layer upon layer of stone, with utilitarian staircases, hallways and a few expansive interior lounges.
The building also still looks like a typical agricultural farmhouse that used to be there until several years ago, when the royal family added several commercial buildings, including a modern grocery store and a restaurant for tourists.
Al Abed, who worked for Oxfam for 30 years, living in the palace many times, explained that most of the money that is spent in Amman today goes towards security, medical care and local entrepreneurs.
“In a lot of other Arab states, you’d have a lot of luxury hotels. In Jordan, you could be killed by terrorists without notice. There is safety for businessmen in Jordan,” he said.
Wafa said there are no plans to