King Goes Undercover

Disguised with a fake white beard and pretending to be a reporter, Jordan's king spent hours listening to his subject's woes before his cover was blown.

The palace confirmed reports of Wednesday's excursion carried on Thursday by several Jordanian dailies. King Abdullah II was continuing a tradition started by his popular father King Hussein, who often mingled among his subjects. Hussein sometimes draped the ends of his headdress across his face to hide his identity.

Abdullah, who was wearing a traditional long dishdasha and a red-checkered keffiyeh headdress, was accompanied by the head of the palace press center, according to a local newspaper report.

The disguised monarch and the head of the palace press center took a taxi to the kingdom's free trade zone. Armed with a video camera, the two men posed as television correspondents and spent five hours inspecting the zone's operations and talking to investors about the problems they faced at work, a local newspaper reported.

No one guessed the king's identity until the zone's management heard that a television crew was conducting interviews without a permit and sent someone to stop them, said the paper.

The king was then forced to reveal his identity, said the paper.

After he removed his beard and a traditional headdress, a cheering crowd gathered around him, the paper said.

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