Queen Noor of Jordan

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Queen Noor 1999.jpg
Queen consort of Jordan
Tenure15 June 1978 – 7 February 1999
BornLisa Najeeb Halaby
(1951-08-23) 23 August 1951 (age 67)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Hussein of Jordan
(m. 1978; died 1999)
Full name
Noor Al-Hussein
FatherNajeeb Halaby
MotherDoris Carlquist

Noor Al-Hussein (Arabic: الملكة نور‎; born Lisa Najeeb Halaby on 23 August 1951)[1] is the queen dowager of Jordan as the widow of King Hussein. She was his fourth spouse and queen consort between their marriage in 1978 and his death in 1999.

She is the longest-standing member of the Board of Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons. As of 2011, she is president of the United World Colleges movement and an advocate of the anti-nuclear weapons proliferation campaign Global Zero. In 2015, Queen Noor received Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson Award for her public service.[2]

Family and early life[edit]

Queen Noor was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby in Washington, D.C. She is the daughter of Najeeb Halaby (1915–2003) and Doris Carlquist (1918–2015). Her father was a Navy experimental test pilot, an airline executive, and government official. He served as United States Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Truman administration, before being appointed by John F. Kennedy to head the Federal Aviation Administration. Najeeb Halaby also had a private-sector career, serving as CEO of Pan American World Airways from 1969 to 1972. The Halabys had two children following Lisa; a son, Christian, and a younger daughter, Alexa. They divorced in 1977. Her mother, Doris, was of Swedish descent and died on 25 December 2015 age 97.[3]

Noor's paternal grandfather, Najeeb Elias Halaby, a Syrian immigrant, was a petroleum broker, according to 1920 Census records.[4] Merchant Stanley Marcus, however, recalled that in the mid-1920s, Halaby opened Halaby Galleries, a rug boutique and interior-decorating shop, at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas, and ran it with his Texas-born wife, Laura Wilkins (1889–1987, later Mrs. Urban B. Koen). Najeeb Halaby died shortly afterward, and his estate was unable to continue the new enterprise.[5]

According to research done in 2010 for the PBS series Faces of America by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., of Harvard University, her great-grandfather, Elias Halaby, came to New York around 1891, one of the earliest Syrian immigrants to the United States. He was a Christian and had been a provincial treasurer (magistrate) in the Ottoman Empire. He left Syria with his two eldest sons. His wife, Almas, and remaining children joined him in the United States in 1894. He died three years later, leaving his teenage sons, Habib, and Najeeb (her paternal grandfather), to run his import business. Najeeb moved to Dallas around 1910 and fully assimilated into American society.[6]


Halaby attended schools in New York and California before entering National Cathedral School from fourth to eighth grade. She attended The Chapin School in New York City for two years,[7] then went on to graduate from Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She entered Princeton University with its first coeducational freshman class, and received a BA in architecture and urban planning in 1973.[8] At Princeton, she was also a member of the school's first women's ice hockey team.[9]


After she graduated from Princeton, Halaby moved to Australia, where she worked for a firm that specialized in planning new towns with a burgeoning interest in the Middle East which because of her Syrian roots had special appeal. After a year, she accepted a job offer from Llewelyn Davies, a British architectural and planning firm, in 1975 which had been employed to design a model capitol city center in Tehran, Iran. When increasing political instability forced the company to relocate to the UK, she traveled to the Arab world and decided to apply to Columbia University's graduate school of journalism while taking a temporary aviation facility research job in Amman. Eventually, she left Arab Air and accepted a job with Alia Airlines to become Director of Facilities Planning and Design. Halaby and the king became friends while he was still mourning the death of his wife. Their friendship evolved and the couple became engaged in 1978.[1]

Marriage and children[edit]

Queen Noor in Hamburg, Germany, in 1978
Queen Noor and King Hussein with Richard von Weizsäcker, President of West Germany, and First Lady Marianne von Weizsäcker in Jordan in 1985

Halaby wed King Hussein on 15 June 1978 in Amman, becoming Queen of Jordan.[10]

Before her marriage, she accepted her husband's Sunni Islamic religion and upon the marriage, changed her name from Lisa Halaby to the royal name Noor Al-Hussein ("Light of Hussein"). The wedding was a traditional Muslim ceremony. Her conversion to Islam and wedding to the King of Jordan received extensive coverage in the Western press; many assumed that she would be regarded as a stranger to the country, since she was an American of mostly European descent who was raised in Christianity. However, because of her Syrian grandfather, she was considered by most of the population to be an Arab returning home rather than a foreigner. She soon gained power and influence by using her role as King Hussein's consort and her education in urban planning for charitable work and improvement to the country's economy, as well as the empowerment of women in Jordanian economic life.[11]

Noor assumed management of the royal household and three stepchildren, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Abir Muhaisen (her husband's children by Queen Alia).[1] Noor and Hussein had four children:

Areas of work[edit]

Domestic agenda[edit]

Queen Noor founded the King Hussein Foundation (KHF) in 1979. It includes the Noor Al Hussein Foundation and eight specialized development institutions: the Jubilee Institute, the Information and Research Center, the National Music Conservatory, the National Center for Culture and Arts and the Institute for Family Health, the Community Development Program, Tamweelcom the Jordan Micro Credit Company and the Islamic microfinance company, Ethmar. She is the Honorary Chairperson of JOrchestra. In addition, Queen Noor launched a youth initiative, the International Arab Youth Congress, in 1980.[12]

International agenda[edit]

Queen Noor's international work focuses on environmental issues and the connection to human security with emphasis on water and ocean health. At the 2017 Our Ocean Conference, Her Majesty delivered a keynote address on the link between climate change and ocean health with human security. [13]Her Majesty is Patron of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Founding and Emeritus President of BirdLife International, Trustee Emeritus of Conservation International, and an Ocean Elder.[14] She was also chair of King Hussein Foundation International, a US non-profit 501(c)(3) which, since 2001, has awarded the King Hussein Leadership Prize.She is the president of the international board, the governing board of international movement for the UWC movement.


Queen Noor in 2011

King Hussein died on 7 February 1999 from lymphatic cancer. After his death, his first-born son, Abdullah II, became king and Hamzah became crown prince. In 2004, Prince Hamzah was unexpectedly stripped of his status as heir designate.[15][16][17] On 2 July 2009, Abdullah named his eldest son as heir to the throne, thereby ending the previous five years' speculation over his successor.[16]

Noor divides her time among Jordan, Washington, D.C., and the United Kingdom (in London and at her country residence, Buckhurst Park, near Winkfield in Berkshire). She continues to work on behalf of numerous international organizations.[18] She speaks Arabic, English and French. The queen also enjoys skiing, water skiing, tennis, sailing, horseback riding, reading, gardening and photography.[19]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Books written by Queen Noor[edit]

  • Noor, Queen (2000). Hussein of Jordan. KHF Publishing.
  • Noor, Queen (2003). Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life. New York, New York, USA: Miramax/Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6717-5. A New York Times #1 best seller published in 17 languages

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Queen Noor of Jordan Biography". biography.com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Queen Noor of Jordan receives Woodrow Wilson award at Princeton's 100th Alumni Day", NJ.com, 2015.
  3. ^ Schudel, Matt (30 December 2015). "Doris C. Halaby, mother of Queen Noor of Jordan, dies at 97". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ Stout, David (3 July 2003). "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  5. ^ Stanley Marcus. Minding the Store: A Memoir, 1974, pg. 39.
  6. ^ "Faces of America: Queen Noor", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
  7. ^ "Portrait of a Princess to Be: Lisa Halaby's Friends Tell of Her Life Before Hussein". People.com. 5 June 1978. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  8. ^ Lucia Raatma, Queen Noor: American-Born Queen of Jordan, 2006.
  9. ^ Princeton UniversityVerified account (21 February 2015). "Princeton University on Twitter: "Alumni Day trivia: @QueenNoor '73 was a member of Princeton's first women's team in which sport? Ice hockey."". Twitter. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  10. ^ S.wren, Christopher. "Hussein Marries American And Proclaims Her Queen". Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  11. ^ "Middle East | Battle of the wives". BBC News. 9 February 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Queen Noor Al Hussein celebrates her birthday". Petra News. 22 August 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  13. ^ "2017 Our Ocean Keynote Address". European Commission. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor". King Hussein Foundation. www.kinghusseinfoundation.org. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Jordan crown prince loses title". BBC News. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  16. ^ a b reuters.com: "Jordan's king names son, 15, as crown prince", 3 July 2009
  17. ^ "Analyzing King Abdullah's Change in the Line of Succession - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". Washingtoninstitute.org. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Arab News". Arab News. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan". Kinghussein.gov.jo. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). 66.media.tumblr.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Jordan3". Royalark.net. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  23. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Kinghusseinfoundation.org. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Here she wears the medal of the order". Coloreddiamond.info. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  25. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Theroyalforums.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 520. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  27. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Media.gettyimages.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  28. ^ Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Noor Regina di Giordania Archived 28 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  31. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.

External links[edit]

Royal titles
Title last held by
Alia Al-Hussein
Queen consort of Jordan
15 June 1978 – 7 February 1999
Succeeded by
Rania Al-Abdullah
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Prince of Wales
President of the United World Colleges