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Queen Noor marks birthday today


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — Sunday marks Her Majesty Queen Noor’s birthday.
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 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 several countries around the world. She married His Majesty King Hussein in 1978. King Hussein passed away in 1999.
Queen Noor’s work in Jordan and the Arab world has focused on human security in the areas of education, conservation, sustainable development, human rights and cross-cultural understanding. 
Her holistic approaches to regional development challenges, based on her academic and professional experience, 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 programmes have advanced development thinking in Jordan and the Middle East through pioneering best practice programmes in the fields of poverty eradication, women and youth empowerment, microfinance, health and arts as a medium for social development and cross-cultural exchange. 
Queen Noor established the KHF to give enduring life to King Hussein’s humanitarian legacy and vision which they shared. 
The Institute for Family Health (IFH) founded by NHF in 1986, has evolved from a primary healthcare centre 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 1999, building on its experience with revolving funds in community development projects in the early 1980s, the NHF launched Tamweelcom — the Jordan Micro Finance Company — to provide tailored, fast track, responsible financing solutions including pioneering non-financial services to marginalised citizens and small entrepreneurs. Regionally, the micro credit company has provided expertise in financial analysis, marketing strategy and human resource management in Yemen, Egypt and Sudan.
In 2015, Ethmar for Islamic Micro-Finance was established as Jordan’s first micro-finance company offering Sharia-compliant financial products. 
In 2020, through 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.
In 1984, Queen Noor launched 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. 
Later the Jubilee Institute was created to encompass both the school and the Jubilee Center for Excellence in Education (JCEE).
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. 
The foundation’s Information and Research Centre, 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 centre manages haqqi.info, 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 centre also collaborates with several international and UN agencies to assess the effects of displacement on Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian youth, and explore entrepreneurship opportunities.
Queen Noor 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 Programme 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.
Queen Noor also founded Jordan’s SOS Children’s Villages Association that has established three SOS children Villages, two 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.  
In 1990, Queen Noor chaired Jordan’s National Commission, 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, and a member of the Ocean Elders and Friends of Ocean Action.
A long-time advocate for just peace refugee rights, Queen Noor is a Director of Refugees International and has also been an expert adviser 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.
Queen Noor is a founding leader of Global Zero, an international movement working for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons and has been an adviser to, and global advocate for, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
 In recognition of her efforts to advance sustainable development, democracy and peace, Queen Noor has been awarded numerous awards and honorary doctorates in international relations, law and humane letters.
Together, King Hussein and Queen Noor had two sons: Their Royal Highnesses Prince Hamzah and Prince Hashim, and two daughters: Their Royal Highnesses Princess Iman and Princess Raiyah, and 12 grandchildren.
She has two published 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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