Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan is an international humanitarian activist and an outspoken voice on issues of world peace and justice. Queen Noor plays a major role in promoting international exchange and understanding of Arab and Muslim culture and politics, Arab-Western relations, and conflict prevention and recovery issues such as refugees, missing persons, poverty and disarmament. She has also helped found media programs to highlight these issues. Her conflict recovery and peacebuilding work over the past decade has focused on the Middle East, the Balkans, Central and Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
As President and Honorary President of United World Colleges, Queen Noor and Nelson Mandela unite to foster peace and international understanding through the global education initiative.Queen Noor‘s work in Jordan since 1978 has focused on national development needs in the areas of education, sustainable development, human rights and cross-cultural understanding. She is also actively involved with international and UN organizations that address global challenges in these fields.
The initiatives of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF) which she chairs have transformed development thinking in Jordan through pioneering programs in the areas of poverty eradication, health, women’s empowerment, microfinance, and arts as a medium for social development and cross-cultural exchange, many of which are internationally acclaimed models for the Middle East and the developing world. As chair of the King Hussein Foundation, Queen Noor dedicates the Sun Microsystems Center at the Foundation’s Jubilee School for exceptional students, a pioneer in distance and computer-assisted learning.
Question: What does service mean to you?
Queen Noor: I… It began in the early ‘60s. I was growing up in Washington. My father worked for President Kennedy. And, for me, the ultimate career goal was the Peace Corps. And while I never actually served in the Peace Corps, the inspiration of that time and of that movement in particular to serve, has motivated probably all my life and work since that time. And I was very privileged to meet a man, many, many worlds away from where I was born who shared the same values and the same aspiration and commitment to public service that I had grown up with though we had grown up in such different environments. King Hussein was that quintessential and unique actually middle Eastern leader for whom… who understood his role as a public servant and not as a more conventional ruler, if you will. For him, it was about service, and that is what joined our hearts and then our work together. So I was able to play a role in trying to bridge worlds and to take my experience prior to my marriage. And then, the most important component that I have emphasized today and do throughout of listening and learning as I began my service as a public servant in the Middle East. So my service began as a young woman marching and advocating for the mission of Martin Luther King and the [dreaming] of the Peace Corps in the United States in the ‘60s and then evolved into someone trying to bring these two worlds together and finding common ground in the Arab and the Muslim world with the values and ideals I’ve grown up within this country and it continues to this day.