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Queen Noor

Noor Al-Hussein
Queen Noor on April 21, 2010
Queen consort of Jordan
Tenure 15 June 1978 – 7 February 1999
Spouse King Hussein
Prince Hamzah
Prince Hashim
Princess Iman
Princess Raiyah
House Hashemite
Father Najeeb Halaby
Mother Doris Carlquist
Born (1951-08-23) 23 August 1951 (age 62)
Washington, D.C., United States
Religion Islam (previously Christianity)
Jordanian Royal Family

HM The King
HM The Queen

HM Queen Noor

Queen Noor of Jordan (Arabic: جلالة الملكة نور‎) (born Lisa Najeeb Halaby; 23 August 1951) is the widow of King Hussein. As the King's fourth spouse, she was queen consort of Jordan between 1978 and 1999. Since her husband's death in 1999, she has been queen dowager of Jordan.

A United States citizen by birth, and of Syrian,[1] English, and Swedish descent, she acquired Jordanian citizenship and renounced her American citizenship at the time of her marriage. As of 2011, she is president of the United World Colleges movement and an advocate of the anti-nuclear weapons proliferation campaign, Global Zero.

Family and early life

Queen Noor was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby in Washington, D.C. She is the daughter of Najeeb Halaby and Doris Carlquist (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 had a successful 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.

Noor's paternal grandfather, Najeeb Elias Halaby, a Syrian immigrant, was a petroleum broker, according to 1920 Census records.[2] 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.[3]

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.[1]


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.[4]


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.[5]

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.[5]

Marriage and children

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

Upon marriage she accepted Islam as it was her husband's religion, becoming known as Noor Al-Hussein (which means Light of Hussein). The wedding was a traditional Muslim ceremony. Initially, the new queen was not accepted by the people of Jordan, as she was not of Arab Muslim birth. Although their opinion is thought to have changed as Noor started expressing genuine interest and commitment to her kingdom,[5] the differences were never completely resolved.[6]

Upon marriage, Noor assumed the management of the royal household and three of her stepchildren, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, and Abir Muhaisen, the children of her husband by Queen Alia.[5] Queen Noor and King Hussein had four children:

Behind the scenes, Noor was involved in politics, for which she was criticized by fundamentalists. In 1984, she supported her husband when he criticized the Americans for being one-sided in their commitment to Israel, while the Americans criticized her for siding with the Jordanians.[5]


King Hussein died on February 7, 1999, following a long battle with cancer. After his death, his firstborn son, Abdullah, became king and Hamzah became Crown Prince. In a surprise move of 2004, Prince Hamzah was stripped of his title as Jordan's next in line.[7] On 2 July 2009, King Abdullah II named his eldest son as heir to the throne, ending five years of speculation over his successor.

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, as distinct from Abdullah's wife Queen Rania, who is styled HM The Queen of Jordan. The present King's mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, an Englishwoman formerly known as Antoinette Avril Gardiner.

Noor divides her time between Jordan, Washington, D.C., and London (and her nearby country residence, Buckhurst Park, at Winkfield in Berkshire). She continues to work on behalf of numerous international organizations.[8]


  •  Jordan : Grand Cordon with collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali (5.6.1978) [9]
  •  Jordan : Special Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Renaissance (5.6.1978) [9]

Foreign Honours

Notable published works

See also


External links

  • King Hussein Foundation website
  • Queen Noor on Twitter
  • 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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