KHF Outreach
Her Majesty Queen Noor Celebrates Birthday
23rd August 2020

Her Majesty Queen Noor is an international public servant and advocate for cross-cultural understanding and conflict prevention and recovery issues such as refugees, missing persons, poverty, climate change and disarmament. Her peace-building work has focused on the Middle East, the Balkans, Central and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Born to an Arab-American family distinguished for its public service, she received a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University prior to working on international urban planning and design projects in Australia, Iran, the United States and the Arab world. She married His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan in 1978 and was widowed when the King passed away in 1999 after a brief bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Queen Noor’s work in Jordan and the Arab world has focused on national and regional human security in the areas of education, conservation, sustainable development, human rights and cross-cultural understanding. She credits her Princeton University degree in Architecture and Urban Planning with influencing her innovative, holistic approaches to regional development challenges which led to the establishment, in 1985, of the non-profit Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF) and in 1999, of the King Hussein Foundation (KHF), which she chairs. NHF/KHF programs have advanced development thinking in Jordan and the Middle East through pioneering best practice programs in the fields of poverty eradication, women and youth empowerment, microfinance, health, and arts as a medium for social development and cross-cultural exchange. The Foundations provide training and capacity-building expertise in these areas in the broader Arab and Asian regions.;

The Noor Al Hussein Foundation’s early initiatives,  the Quality of Life Project, Community Development Program, the Institute for Family Health, the Jubilee School, the National Handcrafts Development Project, the National Music Conservatory, the National Center for Culture and Arts, and the Jordan Micro Credit Company- Tamweelcom have been recognized and supported by the United Nations and other international organizations as development models for the Middle East and the developing world.
The Queen established the King Hussein Foundation to give enduring life to King Hussein’s humanitarian legacy and vision which they shared.  Its mission to  foster equitable access to socio-economic, educational health and cultural opportunities for women, youth and the marginalized in Jordan and beyond is realized through the Noor Al Hussein Foundation’s Institute for Family Health, the Community Development Program, Tamweelcom- the Jordan Micro Finance Company, in addition to the Jubilee Institute, Ethmar for Islamic Micro Finance, the National Center for Culture and Arts, the National Music Conservatory and the Information and Research Center.

The Institute for Family Health (IFH) founded by NHF in 1986, has evolved from a primary health care center for mothers and children into a more comprehensive and progressive healthcare model for Jordan and the region, which addresses the physical, mental, and social welfare of Jordanians and refugees. In 2019, through 26 Jordanian branches, over 400,000 clients were identified, treated and rehabilitated including 11,000 children under five who were treated for anaemia, and over 33,000 sexual and gender-based violence comprehensive services were provided for children and women. Additionally, the IFH continues to build regional and national capacities on rehabilitation of children with disabilities as well as survivors of trauma, violence and torture. 

In 1999, building on its experience with revolving funds in community development projects in the early 1980s the Noor Al Hussein Foundation launched Tamweelcom - the Jordan Micro Finance Company –to provide tailored, fast track, responsible financing solutions including pioneering non-financial services to marginalized citizens and small entrepreneurs. Its mission has evolved to a focus on youth and the development of licensed and unlicensed small and medium enterprises.  Regionally, the micro credit company has supported Yemen, Egypt and Sudan with its expertise in financial analysis, marketing strategy and human resource management.

Building on that success Ethmar for Islamic Micro-Finance was established in 2015 as Jordan’s first micro-finance company offering Sharia-compliant financial products and zero interest student loans for vocational training in market driven sectors. In 2020, through the Foundation’s socio-economic institutions, Tamweelcom, Ethmar for Islamic Micro Finance and the Community Development Program, over 95,000 beneficiaries were economically empowered, including facilitating youth enrolment in vocational and professional training in market-driven sectors through a novel student loan program.

In 1984, Queen Noor was asked by the Prime Minister to assume responsibility for the implementation of an educational project to commemorate His Majesty King Hussein’s 1977 Silver Jubilee. King Hussein and Queen Noor opened the School, a co-educational secondary institution, in 1993, to develop the academic potential of outstanding scholarship students from Jordan and the region, with special emphasis on students from less developed areas. Its mission is to nurture the next generation of leaders – resilient, socially responsible, critical thinkers able to address challenges within their own communities, to thrive in the 21st century economy as well as contribute to building bridges throughout the world. The school was also developed to serve as a training center to advance national and regional educational standards through the development of innovative curricula and training programs for public and private school teachers and students. Later the Jubilee Institute was created to encompass both the school and the Jubilee Center for Excellence in Education (JCEE).

The Center introduced Great Exploration of Math and Sciences, Robotics and STEAM and its novel STEM curricula for visually and hearing-impaired students in Jordan. It also continues to organize annual national and regional competitions such as the Formula One (F1) in Schools, the National Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League, the Arab Open Robotics Championship. Since 2009, the Institute has been managing the UNHCR’s "DAFI" program providing university scholarships to aspiring refugee students at Jordanian universities along with a well-being and life skills support program.

During the COVID—19 lockdown, Jubilee students continued to excel by launching 22 virtual community service initiatives, achieving 1st in the VEX Robotics World Championship out of 20 countries, while two students designed eyeglasses that detect eye motion and translate it into speech to help people with hearing & speech disabilities. Additionally, this year over 7 full and 92 partial university scholarships were awarded to Jubilee graduates.

The Foundation’s Information and Research Center, serves as a catalyst for improved socio-economic development through multidisciplinary research and knowledge sharing with practitioners, policy makers and advocacy campaigns in Jordan and the Middle East. The Center manages, Jordan’s first on-line database that provides legislation, research and media information on critical issues such as human rights, social justice, civil society empowerment, and women and girls rights. The Center also collaborates with several international and UN agencies to assess the effects of displacement on Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian youth, and explore entrepreneurship opportunities.

Furthermore, all of the King Hussein Foundation programs aid in the integration of refugees into their host communities, by providing access to education, finance, and entrepreneurship opportunities in addition to interactive theater and clinical music programs to rehabilitate survivors, inform people of their social and human rights, and to foster coexistence between refugees and host communities.

The Queen is chair of King Hussein Foundation International, a US non-profit 501(c)(3) which, since 2001, has awarded the King Hussein Leadership Prize to individuals, groups, or institutions that demonstrate inspiring leadership in their efforts to promote sustainable development, human rights, tolerance, social equity and peace. In May 2007, the Foundation launched a Media and Humanity Program with New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival promoting media projects that bridge political and cultural divides with special emphasis on the Middle East and the Muslim world.

The Queen founded Jordan’s SOS Children’s Villages Association that has established three SOS children Villages, 2 kindergartens and youth facilities in the country. She is an honorary member of the General Assembly of the SOS-Kinderdorf International.

Queen Noor has made conservation and environmental priorities an essential component of her work to promote human security and conflict resolution. Shortly after her marriage, she became a patron of Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, RSCN, the Middle East’s first environmental NGO. RSCN and NHF/KHF programs have become regional models for conservation and sustainable development providing training and capacity building in the Middle East.

The Queen also chaired Jordan’s National Commission in 1990 which developed Jordan’s National Environment Strategy, the region’s first such initiative, along with Jordan’s Environment Law which set standards for water use and quality, specifications to measure and control air pollution, and conditions for the establishment and operation of wild and aquatic nature reserves.

Since 1989, she has also served as Honorary Chair and Patron of the Petra National Trust a pioneering initiative in Jordan and the region for its work preserving and safeguarding cultural and natural heritage.

Internationally, she has focused on environmental conservation and human security with emphasis on water and Ocean health and protection issues.  She is Patron of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Founding and Emeritus President of BirdLife International, Trustee Emeritus of Conservation International, a member of the Ocean Elders and Friends of Ocean Action.

A long-time advocate for a just Arab-Israeli peace and for Palestinian refugees, Queen Noor is a Director of Refugees International and an outspoken voice for the protection of civilians in conflict and displaced persons around the world. Her focus has included advocacy for Afghans displaced after the 2001 war, displaced Pakistanis, 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 Syrian civil war in 2011.   She has also been an expert advisor to the United Nations focusing on implementation of the MDGs in Central Asia and on behalf of Colombia’s displaced

Queen Noor has also focused extensively on the Balkans since her first humanitarian mission in 1996 to bring aid from Jordan to the survivors of the tragic fall of Srebrenica. Over the following years, Queen Noor worked closely with families of the missing from Srebrenica and the Western Balkans region as a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). ICMP, headquartered in The Hague, is the leading provider of DNA-assisted identifications, and related healing, justice and reconciliation best practices to countries worldwide dealing with natural catastrophes, human rights abuses and conflict working  in over 40 countries including Iraq, Syria, Columbia, Mexico, Western Balkans, and Missing Migrants in the Mediterranean.

Queen Noor is a founding leader of Global Zero, an international movement working for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons and has been an advisor to, and global advocate for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She successfully lobbied for Jordan’s ratification of the Ottawa treaty and  announced the critical 40th ratification of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty at the United Nations on October 1, 1998, detailing new measures to universalize the treaty and to promote victim-survivors assistance.

Queen Noor is also involved with a number of other international organizations advancing global peace-building and conflict recovery. She is President of the United World Colleges (UWC), a network of 17 equal-opportunity international IB colleges around the world which foster cross-cultural understanding and global peacebuilding; a Trustee of the Aspen Institute, Advisor to Search for Common Ground and Trust Women – the Thomson Reuters Foundation annual conference aiming to put the rule of law behind women’s rights.
She has also worked with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Seeds of Peace, Council of Women World Leaders, and Women Waging Peace and as a member of the Pew Global Attitudes Survey International Advisory Board.

In recognition of her efforts to advance sustainable development, democracy and peace, the Queen has been awarded numerous awards and honorary doctorates in international relations, law and humane letters.

Together, HM 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 and 12 grandchildren.

She has published two books, Hussein of Jordan (KHF Publishing, 2000) and Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life (Miramax Books, 2003), a New York Times #1 best seller published in 17 languages.

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