Queen Noor of Jordan

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Noor Al-Hussein
A photo of Queen Noor at age 48
Queen Noor in 1999
Queen consort of Jordan
TenureJune 15, 1978 – February 7, 1999
BornLisa Najeeb Halaby
(1951-08-23) August 23, 1951 (age 70)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
(m. 1978; died 1999)
HouseHashemite (by marriage)
FatherNajeeb Halaby
MotherDoris Carlquist

Noor Al-Hussein (Arabic: نور الحسين‎; born Lisa Najeeb Halaby; August 23, 1951)[1] is an American-born Jordanian philanthropist and activist who was Queen of Jordan as the fourth wife of King Hussein from their marriage in 1978 until his death in 1999.

Noor 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[3][unreliable source?] in Washington, D.C., USA. She is the daughter of Najeeb Halaby (1915–2003) and Doris Carlquist (1918–2015). Her paternal family are Syrian-Lebanese American; her maternal family are Swedish American.[4] Her father was a Navy experimental test pilot, an airline executive, and government official. He served as an aide to the United States 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 December 25, 2015 aged 97.[5]

Noor's paternal grandfather was Najeeb Elias Halaby, a Syrian-Lebanese businessman born in Zahle, and whose parents hailed from Aleppo,[6][7][8] He was a petroleum broker, according to 1920 Census records.[9] 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.[10]

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-Lebanese immigrants to the United States. He was a Christian as well as having been a provincial treasurer (magistrate)[11] as stated before by Najeeb Halaby in his autobiography Crosswinds: an Airman's Memoir.[6] He left Ottoman Syria with his two eldest sons. His wife, Almas Mallouk, and their 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.[12]


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,[13] and then went on to graduate from Concord Academy, a private boarding school in Concord, Massachusetts. She entered Princeton University with its first coeducational freshman class and received an A.B. in architecture and urban planning in 1974 after completing a 32-page long senior thesis titled "96th Street and Second Avenue."[14][15] She was also a member of the Princeton University's first women's ice hockey team.[16]


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 Halaby's Syrian roots, had special appeal for her. After a year, in 1975, she accepted a job offer from Llewelyn Davies, a British architectural and planning firm, which had been employed to design a model capital 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 June 15, 1978, in Amman, becoming Queen of Jordan.[17]

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.[18]

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.[19]

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, she delivered a keynote address on the link between climate change and ocean health with human security.[20] Queen Noor 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.[21] 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
Queen Noor's arms as dame of the Order of Charles III

King Hussein died on February 7, 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.[22][23][24] On July 2, 2009, Abdullah named his eldest son as heir-apparent to the throne, thereby ending the previous five years' speculation over his successor.[23]

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.[25] She speaks Arabic, English and French. The queen also enjoys skiing, water skiing, tennis, sailing, horseback riding, reading, gardening and photography.[26]


National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Books written by Queen Noor[edit]

  • — (1 January 2000). Hussein of Jordan, 1935-1999: A Photographic History (in Arabic). King Hussein Foundation. ASIN B002IFYMZE. ISBN 978-9957851903. OCLC 803766796.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Queen Noor of Jordan Biography". biography.com. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  2. ^ "Queen Noor of Jordan receives Woodrow Wilson award at Princeton's 100th Alumni Day", NJ.com, 2015.
  3. ^ "Queen Noor of Jordan - Queen". Biography. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  4. ^ Mahajan, Vijay (July 13, 2012). The Arab World Unbound: Tapping into the Power of 350 Million Consumers. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-23642-0.
  5. ^ Schudel, Matt (December 30, 2015). "Doris C. Halaby, mother of Queen Noor of Jordan, dies at 97". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Halaby, Najeeb E. (1978). Crosswinds: an airman's memoir. Doubleday. p. 3. ISBN 9780385049634.
  7. ^ Noor, Queen (2003). Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life. p. 9. ISBN 9781587244667.
  8. ^ "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". NYTimes.com.
  9. ^ Stout, David (July 3, 2003). "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  10. ^ Stanley Marcus. Minding the Store: A Memoir, 1974, pg. 39.
  11. ^ Gates Jr., Henry Louis (September 2010). Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered their Pasts. p. 65. ISBN 9780814732656.
  12. ^ "Faces of America: Queen Noor", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
  13. ^ "Portrait of a Princess to Be: Lisa Halaby's Friends Tell of Her Life Before Hussein". People.com. June 5, 1978. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  14. ^ Lucia Raatma, Queen Noor: American-Born Queen of Jordan, 2006.
  15. ^ Halaby, Lisa. Princeton University. School of Architecture (ed.). "96th Street and Second Avenue". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ Princeton University (February 21, 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 May 25, 2017.
  17. ^ S.wren, Christopher. "Hussein Marries American And Proclaims Her Queen". Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  18. ^ "Middle East | Battle of the wives". BBC News. February 9, 1999. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  19. ^ "Queen Noor Al Hussein celebrates her birthday". Petra News. August 22, 2015. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  20. ^ "2017 Our Ocean Keynote Address". European Commission. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor". King Hussein Foundation. www.kinghusseinfoundation.org. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  22. ^ "Jordan crown prince loses title". BBC News. November 29, 2004. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  23. ^ a b reuters.com: "Jordan's king names son, 15, as crown prince", 3 July 2009
  24. ^ "Analyzing King Abdullah's Change in the Line of Succession - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". Washingtoninstitute.org. November 29, 2004. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  25. ^ "Arab News". Arab News. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  26. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan". Kinghussein.gov.jo. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  27. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 520. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  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 October 3, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 13, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ Nordenvall, Per (1998). Kungliga Serafimerorden, 1748-1998. Stockholm: Kungl. Maj:ts orden. ISBN 91-630-6744-7. OCLC 44409530.

External links[edit]

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