Queen Noor of Jordan

Noor Al-Hussein (Arabic: نور الحسين; born Lisa Najeeb Halaby; August 23, 1951)[1] is an American-born Jordanian philanthropist and activist who is the fourth wife and widow of King Hussein of Jordan. She was Queen of Jordan from their marriage on June 15, 1978, until Hussein's death on February 7, 1999.

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 71)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
(m. 1978; died 1999)
HouseHashemite (by marriage)
FatherNajeeb Halaby
MotherDoris Carlquist

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 lifeEdit

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 raised a Christian Scientist[5] and 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. The children were raised nominally Episcopalian.[5] They divorced in 1977.[5] Her mother, Doris, was of Swedish descent and died on December 25, 2015, aged 97.[6]

Noor's paternal grandfather was Najeeb Elias Halaby, a Syrian-Lebanese businessman born in Zahle, and whose parents hailed from Aleppo.[7][8][9] He was a petroleum broker, according to 1920 Census records.[10] Merchant Stanley Marcus 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.[11]

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 circa 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)[12] as stated before by Najeeb Halaby in his autobiography Crosswinds: an Airman's Memoir.[7] 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 U.S. society.[13]


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,[14] and then went on to graduate from Concord Academy. 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."[15][16] She was also a member of Princeton's first women's ice hockey team.[17]


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. Because of Halaby's Syrian roots, this 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 third wife. Their friendship evolved and the couple became engaged in 1978.[1]

Marriage and childrenEdit

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.[18]

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[citation needed], 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[citation needed]. She soon gained 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.[citation needed]

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:

  • Hamzah (born March 29, 1980, in Amman), Crown Prince from 1999 to 2004, who has five daughters and two sons.
  • Prince Hashim (born June 10, 1981, in Amman), who has three daughters and two sons.
  • Princess Iman (born April 24, 1983, in Amman), who has one son.
  • Princess Raiyah (born February 9, 1986, in Amman).

Areas of workEdit

Domestic agendaEdit

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 agendaEdit

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

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, the US (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] She held amateur radio callsign JY1NH but the license has lapsed.[27]


National honoursEdit

Foreign honoursEdit

Queen Noor's arms as dame of the Order of Charles III


Books written by Queen NoorEdit

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

See alsoEdit


  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" Archived February 25, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, NJ.com, 2015.
  3. ^ "Queen Noor of Jordan – Queen". Biography. Archived from the original on July 23, 2019. 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. Archived from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Queen Noor: The Light of Hussein | Full Documentary | Biography, retrieved July 23, 2022
  6. ^ Schudel, Matt (December 30, 2015). "Doris C. Halaby, mother of Queen Noor of Jordan, dies at 97". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Halaby, Najeeb E. (1978). Crosswinds: an airman's memoir. Doubleday. p. 3. ISBN 9780385049634. Archived from the original on August 29, 2021. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  8. ^ Noor, Queen (2003). Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life. p. 9. ISBN 9781587244667. Archived from the original on August 31, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  9. ^ Stout, David (July 3, 2003). "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 26, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  10. ^ Stout, David (July 3, 2003). "Najeeb E. Halaby, Former Airline Executive, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  11. ^ Stanley Marcus. Minding the Store: A Memoir, 1974, pg. 39.
  12. ^ Gates Jr., Henry Louis (September 2010). Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered their Pasts. p. 65. ISBN 9780814732656. Archived from the original on September 1, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  13. ^ "Faces of America: Queen Noor" Archived April 24, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
  14. ^ "Portrait of a Princess to Be: Lisa Halaby's Friends Tell of Her Life Before Hussein". People.com. June 5, 1978. Archived from the original on September 14, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  15. ^ Lucia Raatma, Queen Noor: American-Born Queen of Jordan, 2006.
  16. ^ Halaby, Lisa. Princeton University. School of Architecture (ed.). "96th Street and Second Avenue". Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved May 31, 2020. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ 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. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  18. ^ S.wren, Christopher (June 16, 1978). "Hussein Marries American And Proclaims Her Queen". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 14, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  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. Archived from the original on August 2, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor". King Hussein Foundation. www.kinghusseinfoundation.org. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  22. ^ "Jordan crown prince loses title". BBC News. November 29, 2004. Archived from the original on July 5, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  23. ^ a b reuters.com: "Jordan's king names son, 15, as crown prince" Archived April 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, July 3, 2009
  24. ^ "Analyzing King Abdullah's Change in the Line of Succession – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy". Washingtoninstitute.org. November 29, 2004. Archived from the original on November 4, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  25. ^ "Arab News". Arab News. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  26. ^ "Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan". Kinghussein.gov.jo. Archived from the original on March 9, 2021. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  27. ^ "ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX001 (1999)".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 520. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 22, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  29. ^ Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Noor Regina di Giordania Archived September 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 3, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 13, 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ Nordenvall, Per (1998). Kungliga Serafimerorden, 1748–1998. Stockholm: Kungl. Maj:ts orden. ISBN 91-630-6744-7. OCLC 44409530. Archived from the original on June 15, 2022. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  33. ^ "No. 51767". The London Gazette. June 16, 1989. p. 7104.
  34. ^ "Blessed are the Peacemakers". Catholic Theological Union. December 6, 2022. Retrieved December 7, 2022.

External linksEdit

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