Queen Noor of Jordan (born Lisa Najeeb Halaby on 23 August 1951) the American-born 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.
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.
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 on December 25, 2015 age 97.
After she graduated from Princeton, 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.
In 1977, while working for Royal Jordanian Airlines, 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.
Halaby wed King Hussein 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.
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). Noor and Hussein had four children:
Prince Hamzah (born 29 March 1980), Crown Prince from 1999 to 2004, who has four daughters.
Prince Hashim (born 10 June 1981), who has three daughters and one son.
Princess Iman (born 24 April 1983), who has one son
Princess Raiyah (born 9 February 1986).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. She speaks Arabic, English and French. The queen also enjoys skiing, water skiing, tennis, sailing, horseback riding, reading, gardening and photography.