Thursday, July 29, 1999 Published at 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
World: Middle East
King Abdullah goes undercover
Jordan's citizens are more used to seeing their king looking like this
King Abdullah II of Jordan has shown himself to be a master of disguise after going undercover as a television reporter to investigate operations in the kingdom's duty free zone.
Armed with a video camera, the king arrived in Zarqa by taxi, accompanied by another TV journalist - in fact the head of the palace press centre.
Disgruntled investors were only too ready to tell the royal TV crew just what they thought about Jordan's bloated bureaucracy.
According to the Al-Dustur newspaper, one trader from Dubai complained bitterly that customs officials were not doing their jobs.
He asked the TV reporter king: "How can an application take four days to process when there are 40 customs officials at 40 windows?"
It was only when the zone's officials got wind of the fact that a TV crew was filming without a special permit that the king was forced to reveal his true identity.
The palace confirmed reports of the king's impromptu excursion, which was carried by several Jordanian dailies.
Since ascending the throne in February an undisguised King Abdullah has made a series of surprise visits to hospitals, border crossings and other public services.
Correspondents say King Abdullah was continuing a tradition started by his father, King Hussein, who often mingled with his subjects. Reports say the late king sometimes draped the ends of his headdress across his face to conceal his identity.