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JORDAN: Queen Rania on YouTube quest

Queen Rania, the glamorous monarch of Jordan, is trying to become the queen of YouTube.

She’s using the video website to reach out people around the world. Last week, she launched a black and white video on YouTube asking young people to join in a global dialogue to dismantle misconceptions about Muslims and the Arab world.

"In a world where it's so easy to connect to one another, we still remain very much disconnected. There's a whole world of wonder out there that we cannot appreciate with stereotypes," the queen says in the video, below.

In the video, Rania urges the viewers to send her their opinions and the stereotypes they hold about Arabs and Muslims. She said she wants people "to know the real Arab world unedited, unscripted and unfiltered."

Jordan is desperately trying to build up its image in the West to attract investment and tourism. The queen probably figured YouTube is a good way to reach the millions of young people who surf the site. Nevertheless, the experiment seems to be stirring up some healthy dialogue.  Rania's page on YouTube, and her video, "Send me your stereotypes,” have been viewed by more than 1 million. Thousands have sent her their views of the Arab world.

One commentator from Scotland applauded the Queen's attempt to engage in such a dialogue, but argued that prejudice exists on her end of the cultural divide, as well.

Understanding is required on both sides! And her main point appears to be "dismantle stereotypes of Muslims". We have had inter-faith missions for some time in this country yet in Muslim countries they are banned, it seems to be mainly one way street! Westerners may need education in Muslim culture! But there is a much greater need for Muslim to understand the West, and learn to respect it as they demand Islam to be respected.

Another visitor tried to dispel stereotypes about freedom of religion in the Arab world:

I am a Jordanian Christian. For example; in schools, we were allowed to excuse ourselves from Islamic religion classes, while given full freedom to practice ours... talk about freedom of religion. One more STEREOTYPE de-bunked!

The exchange of views between viewers will continue until International Youth Day on Aug. 12.

Although a mostly traditional country, Jordan aspires to modernity. Unlike some other Middle East countries as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Jordan allows its citizens unrestricted access to YouTube, for example.

The Palestinian-born Rania has used her monarchical megaphone to promote a number of pet causes, including education, women's rights and combating domestic violence.

She once appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to discuss women and Islam.

Davigh Karamanoukian in Beirut

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the confrontation between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

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