Born In: Washington, D.C., United States
An American-born architect with Lebanese-Syrian roots, Lisa Najeeb Halaby hailed from an elite Arab-American family and became Queen Noor, or Noor Al-Hussein (Light of Hussein) after her marriage to King Hussein of Jordan. She reigned as the queen consort of Jordan and the fourth wife of King Hussein from June 1978 to February 1999. While the Princeton-educated architect initially worked with several firms on major international planning and design projects in places such as Australia and Iran, as the queen, she later took up major philanthropic activities, ranging from nuclear disarmament and human rights to empowerment of Bedouin women and climate change. She oversaw the Noor al-Hussein Foundation and the King Hussein Foundation and also penned two books, including a New York Times bestseller. She has been part of international peace-building initiatives and has received countless national and international awards and honors.
Also Known As: Lisa Najeeb Halaby, Noor Al-Hussein
Spouse/Ex-: Hussein of Jordan (m. 1978–1999)
father: Najeeb Halaby
mother: Doris Carlquist
children: Iman bint Hussein, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, Prince Hashim bin Hussein, Raiyah bint Hussein
Born Country: United States
Height: 1.65 m
Notable Alumni: Concord Academy
U.S. State: Washington
education: Princeton University, Concord Academy
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Queen Noor, also known as Lisa Najeeb Halaby and Noor Al-Hussein, was born on August 23, 1951, into the Arab-American family of businessman and aviator Najeeb Halaby and Doris Carlquist, in Washington, DC, US. She studied at the prestigious National Cathedral School of Washington, DC., Chapin School in New York City, and the Concord Academy in Boston.
She then completed her degree in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University. She was also part of the first women’s ice hockey team at Princeton.
Queen Noor began her career working for urban planning and design projects in Philadelphia and then in an Australian firm that planned new towns, with a special focus on the Middle East. She then worked for the British architectural and planning firm Llewelyn Davies, which designed a city center in Iran’s capital, Tehran.
She also worked for Arab Air Services, which was partially owned by her father. She served as the director of facilities design and architecture for the royal Jordanian airline, Alia. After meeting the Jordanian monarch, King Hussein, who was then mourning the death of his third wife, Queen Alia, in a helicopter crash, she married him and embraced Islam. She also took up an Arabic name soon after.
As the Queen of Jordan, she was highly invested in philanthropic activities. She worked with children and founded many agencies, such as the Royal Endowment for Culture and Education, the National Music Conservatory, and the Jubilee School for gifted students. She also formed the Arab Children’s Congress and chaired the National Task Force for Children.
Queen Noor established the Noor al-Hussein Foundation in 1985. It was aimed at integrating her numerous charitable initiatives.
After the death of the king in 1999, she became the chair of the King Hussein Foundation (KHF). She also supported the global movement to ban antipersonnel land mines, especially with the Landmine Survivors Network and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
She co-founded the Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund to promote cross-cultural understanding. In late 2009, the Alliance merged with the non-profit Soliya.
Queen Noor also promotes global peace by supporting movements such as Global Zero, the United World Colleges, and Refugees International. Her peace-building initiatives focus on places such as the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, Latin America, and Central and Southeast Asia.
She has been part of the board of the International Commission on Missing Persons. She has also been the president of the United World Colleges movement.
Her philanthropic work focuses on issues such as education, sustainable development, human rights, climate change, and disarmament. Queen Noor has authored 2 books: Hussein of Jordan and Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, the second being a New York Times bestseller that has been published in 17 languages since its release in 2003.
In 2015, she received the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University for her charitable work. She has also received various international honors, such as the UK’s Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint John and Denmark’s Knight of the Order of the Elephant. In 2001, she received the Catholic Theological Union’s Blessed are the Peacemakers Award.
While working for Alia Airlines, he met King Hussein bin Talal, also known as King Hussein of Jordan, who was 16 years her senior. The two got married on June 15, 1978, following which Queen Noor became a Jordanian citizen.
King Hussein and Queen Noor had two sons, HRH Prince Hamzah and HRH Prince Hashim, and two daughters, HRH Princess Iman and HRH Princess Raiyah. They also became grandparents to 12 grandchildren.
She reigned as the queen consort until King Hussein’s death on February 7, 1999, after a brief struggle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
She once held the amateur radio callsign JY1NH. An adventure lover, she loves skiing, sailing, and horseback riding.
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