by Scott Mehl
Lisa Najeeb Halaby was born August 23, 1951, in Washington DC, the eldest child of Najeeb Halaby and Doris Carlquist. Her father, of Syrian descent, held several prominent positions including head of the Federal Aviation Administration, and CEO of PanAm. Coming from an affluent family, Lisa attended private schools for her primary education – The National Cathedral School in Washington DC, The Chapin School in New York City and Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She went on to attend Princeton University, as a member of the first coeducational class, graduating in 1974 with a degree in architecture and urban planning.
In 1977, Lisa met her future husband – King Hussein of Jordan – while working on the development of Queen Alia Airport in Jordan, named for the King’s recently deceased wife. The couple were soon engaged and married on June 15, 1978 in Amman. Upon marriage, Lisa was given the name Noor Al-Hussein and was made Queen of Jordan. Previously, she had converted to Islam and relinquished her US citizenship.
Noor and Hussein had four children together – Prince Hamzah (1980), Prince Hashim (1981), Princess Iman (1983) and Princess Riayah (1986). In addition, she raised three of her stepchildren, the children of King Hussein and his third wife, Queen Alia.
King Hussein died in 1999 following a battle with cancer. The now Dowager Queen continues her work with many international organizations, including chairing the King Hussein Foundation, serving as president of the United World Colleges and working with the Global Zero campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world.
Suggested reading: Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life, (2003), Queen Noor of Jordan