Her Majesty Queen Noor (born August 23, 1951) is the fourth wife and widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan (1935-1999). She is an American of Arab, Swedish, Scottish, and English descent.
Queen Noor was born Elizabeth Najeeb Halaby the daughter of Najeeb Elias Halaby (1915-2003), a former CEO of Pan-American World Airways, one time head of the Federal Aviation Administration, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, and his first wife, Doris Carlquist. She has a younger brother, Christian Halaby, a composer and guitarist, and a younger sister, Alexa Halaby (a University of Pennsylvania squash champion who was a bridesmaid at the 1986 wedding of Maria Owings Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger). She was born in Washington, DC.
Queen Noor's paternal grandfather, Najeeb Elias Halaby (1878-1928), a Syrian immigrant of Lebanese descent, was an oil broker, according to 1920 census records. Retail panjandrum Stanley Marcus, however, recalled that in the early 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).
Lisa Halaby was raised and educated in the United States, graduating from Princeton University in 1974. An architect-planner by training, she met King Hussein while working in Jordan on the development of the Amman Intercontinental Airport. They married on June 15, 1978. In a New York Times article (May 19, 1978) about the couple's forthcoming wedding, a friend of the bride described her as "a darling, healthy, sunburned, tennis-playing, All-American girl, but she is very sophisticated. I can't see her marrying the average boy." Halaby converted to Islam, and before the marriage took place, her first name was changed from Elizabeth to Noor, an Arabic word meaning Light.
She is not the Queen Mother of Jordan, being King Abdullah II's stepmother, but no apparent titular distinction has been made between Queen Noor and Abdullah's wife, Queen Rania.
Queen Noor and King Hussein had four children:
- Prince Hamzah (born March 29, 1980)
- Prince Hashim (born June 10, 1981)
- Princess Iman (born April 24, 1983)
- Princess Raiyah (born February 9, 1986)
In 2003, Queen Noor published a memoir, Leap of Faith, which became a bestseller.
- Queen Noor's official website (http://www.noor.gov.jo/index.htm)
- Speech given at The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts (http://gos.sbc.edu/n/noor3.html) (1996)