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 66)
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

Noor Al-Hussein (Arabic: الملكة نور‎; born Lisa Najeeb Halaby on 23 August 1951) is the American-born 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 the Woodrow Wilson Award for her public service.[1]

Family and early life

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) of Swedish descent. 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. Doris C. Halaby died on December 25, 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 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.[5]


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,[6] 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.[7] At Princeton she was also a member of the school's first women's ice hockey team.[8]


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.[9]

Marriage and children

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 wed King Hussein on 15 June 1978 in Amman, becoming Queen of Jordan.

Before her marriage, she accepted her husband's Sunni Islamic religion and upon the marriage, the royal name Noor Al-Hussein ("Light of Hussein"). The wedding was a traditional Muslim ceremony. Although many assumed that she would be initially regarded as a stranger to the country and as an Arab-American Halaby, she was considered 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.[10]

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).[9] Noor and Hussein had four children:

Areas of work

Domestic agenda

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, Noor launched a youth initiative, the International Arab Youth Congress, in 1980.[11]

International agenda

She is chair of King Hussein Foundation International, a US non-profit 501(c)(3) which, since 2001, has awarded the King Hussein Leadership Prize.


Queen Noor on the cover of Ms. magazine in 2003

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 designate.[12][13][14] On 2 July 2009, Abdullah named his eldest son as heir to the throne, thereby ending the previous five years' speculation over his successor.[13]

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.[15] She speaks Arabic, English and French. The queen also enjoys skiing, water skiing, tennis, sailing, horseback riding, reading, gardening and photography.[16]


National honours

Foreign honours

Books written by Queen Noor

See also


  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. ^ "Portrait of a Princess to Be: Lisa Halaby's Friends Tell of Her Life Before Hussein". People.com. 1978-06-05. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  7. ^ Lucia Raatma, Queen Noor: American-Born Queen of Jordan, 2006.
  8. ^ Princeton UniversityVerified account (2015-02-21). "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 2017-05-25. 
  9. ^ a b "Queen Noor of Jordan Biography". biography.com. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  10. ^ "Middle East | Battle of the wives". BBC News. 1999-02-09. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  11. ^ "Queen Noor Al Hussein celebrates her birthday". Petra News. 22 August 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  12. ^ "Jordan crown prince loses title". BBC News. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  13. ^ a b reuters.com: "Jordan's king names son, 15, as crown prince", 3 Jul 2009
  14. ^ "Analyzing King Abdullah's Change in the Line of Succession - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". Washingtoninstitute.org. 2004-11-29. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  15. ^ "Arab News". Arab News. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  16. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan". Kinghussein.gov.jo. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  17. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  18. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). 66.media.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Jordan3". Royalark.net. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  20. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Kinghusseinfoundation.org. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Here she wears the medal of the order". Coloreddiamond.info. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  22. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Theroyalforums.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  23. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 520. Retrieved 1 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Media.gettyimages.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  25. ^ Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Noor Regina di Giordania Archived September 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  27. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2014-06-09. 
  28. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Retrieved 2017-05-25. 

External links

Media related to Queen Noor of Jordan at Wikimedia Commons

  • King Hussein Foundation website
  • Noor Al Hussein Foundation website
  • Global Zero Campaign
  • Transcript of a speech given at The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in 1996
  • 2002 commencement speech - Mount Holyoke College
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
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