Queen Noor of Jordan

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Queen Noor Jordan 2011.jpg
Queen Noor in 2011
Queen consort of Jordan
Tenure 15 June 1978 – 7 February 1999
Born Lisa Najeeb Halaby
(1951-08-23) 23 August 1951 (age 64)
Washington, D.C., United States
Spouse Hussein of Jordan
(m. 1978–99; his death)
Full name
Noor Al-Hussein
Father Najeeb Halaby
Mother Doris Carlquist
Religion Islam
Jordanian Royal Family
Coat of arms of Jordan.svg

HM The King
HM The Queen

HM Queen Noor

Queen Noor of Jordan (Arabic: الملكة نور‎; born Lisa Najeeb Halaby on 23 August 1951) is an American woman who is the widow of King Hussein of Jordan. She was his fourth spouse and queen consort between their marriage in 1978 and his death in 1999. She is also known as Noor Al-Hussein.

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 the Woodrow Wilson Award for her public service.[1]

Family and early life[edit]

Queen Noor was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby in Washington, D.C. She is the daughter of Najeeb Halaby (born 1915) and Doris Carlquist (born 1918) of Swedish descent. Her father was an aviator, airline executive, and government official. He served as Deputy 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. Doris C. Halaby died in 2015 age 97.[2]

Noor's paternal grandfather, Najeeb Elias Halaby, a Syrian immigrant, was a petroleum broker, according to 1920 Census records.[3] 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.[4]

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 had been a Christian and 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.[5]


Lisa Halaby attended National Cathedral School from fourth to eighth grade. She briefly attended The Chapin School in New York City, 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.[6] At Princeton she was also a member of the school's first women's ice hockey team.[7]


After she graduated, Lisa Halaby moved to Australia, where she worked for a firm that specialized in planning new towns. She became increasingly interested in the Middle East and immediately accepted a job offer from a British architectural firm that had been employed to redesign Tehran, Iran. In 1976 she moved back to the United States. She thought about earning a master's degree in journalism and starting a career in television production. However, she accepted a job offer from Managing Director of Arab Air Services, which was founded by her father, who was commissioned by the Jordanian government to redesign their airlines. She became Director of Facilities Planning and Design of the airline he founded.[8]

In 1977, she was working for Royal Jordanian Airlines, in which capacity she attended various high-profile social events as the Director of Facilities Planning and Design. This is where she met Hussein of Jordan for the first time on the development of the Queen Alia International Airport. The airport was named after Queen Alia, Hussein's third wife, who died in a helicopter crash the same year. 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.[8]

Marriage and children[edit]

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

Halaby and King Hussein wed on 15 June 1978 in Amman, becoming his fourth wife and Queen of Jordan.

Upon her marriage she accepted her husband's Sunni Islamic religion and the royal name Noor Al-Hussein ("Light of Hussein"). The wedding was a traditional Muslim ceremony. Although initially regarded as a stranger to the country and its people, 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.[9]

Queen 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).[8] Queen Noor and King Hussein had four children:

Behind the scenes, Noor's involvement in politics was sometimes criticized by fundamentalists. In 1984, she supported her husband when he criticized the Americans for their one-sided commitment to Israel, while Americans criticized her for siding with the Jordanians.[8]

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 8 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 micro finance company, Ethmar. She is the Honorary Chairperson of JOrchestra. In addition, Queen Noor launched a youth initiative, the International Arab Youth Congress, in 1980.[10]

International agenda[edit]

Queen Noor is a board member of Refugees International and has been advocating for the protection of civilians in conflict and displaced persons around the world. She is outspoken for Iraqis displaced in Iraq, Jordan, Syria and other countries after the 2003 Iraq conflict, and for the millions of Syrians displaced since the onset of the 2011 Syrian civil war.

She is also a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons and an advisor to Trust Women -the Thomson Reuters Foundation annual conference aiming to put the rule of law behind women's rights.

Queen Noor has been an advisor to, and global advocate for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines since 1998. She is also a founding leader of Global Zero, an international movement working for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.


Following a long battle with lymphatic cancer, King Hussein died on 7 February 1999. After his death, his first-born son, Abdullah, became king and Hamzah became Crown Prince. Unexpectedly, during 2004, Prince Hamzah was stripped of his status as heir presumptive.[11] On 2 July 2009, King Abdullah II named his eldest son as heir to the throne, thereby ending the previous five years' speculation over his successor.[citation needed]

Though Noor is the queen dowager, she is stepmother to King Abdullah II and thus cannot be classified as "queen mother"; accordingly, she is known as "HM Queen Noor of Jordan", while King Abdullah's wife Queen Rania is styled "HM The Queen of Jordan" per her status of consort. The present King's mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, a British woman formerly known as Antoinette Avril Gardiner.[citation needed]

Queen 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.[12] She speaks Arabic, English and French. The queen also enjoys skiing, water skiing, tennis, sailing, horseback riding, reading, gardening and photography.[13]


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. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Queen Noor of Jordan receives Woodrow Wilson award at Princeton's 100th Alumni Day", NJ.com, 2015.
  2. ^ Schudel, Matt (2015-12-30). "Doris C. Halaby, mother of Queen Noor of Jordan, dies at 97". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-05. 
  3. ^ Stout, David (3 July 2003). "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  4. ^ Stanley Marcus. Minding the Store: A Memoir, 1974, pg. 39.
  5. ^ "Faces of America: Queen Noor", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
  6. ^ Lucia Raatma, Queen Noor: American-Born Queen of Jordan, 2006.
  7. ^ Princeton University. Twitter.
  8. ^ a b c d "Queen Noor of Jordan Biography". biography.com. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  9. ^ BBC World: Middle East - Battle of the Wives
  10. ^ "Queen Noor Al Hussein celebrates her birthday". Petra News. 22 August 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Jordan crown prince loses title". BBC News. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Queen Noor: Bridging Worlds and Roles
  13. ^ Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan. Official Biography.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i Royal Ark, Jordanian genealogy details
  15. ^ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/259871840975520141/
  16. ^ http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-QV001194.jpg?size=67&uid=f9bca8da-db91-4ca3-89bf-a746f13436e6
  17. ^ http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=92895&d=1108185729
  18. ^ a b c d e Colored Diamond, [1], here she wears the medal of the order
  19. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 520. Retrieved November 2012. 
  20. ^ Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Noor Regina di Giordania
  21. ^ (Spanish) Boletín Oficial del Estado (1994.11.11)
  22. ^ (Spanish) Boletín Oficial del Estado (1985.03.25)

External links[edit]

Media related to Queen Noor of Jordan at Wikimedia Commons

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