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Friday, February 5, 1999 Published at 21:12 GMT

World: Middle East

Profile: Queen Noor

A glamorous figure viewed with mixed feelings by Jordanians

Queen Noor married King Hussein in 1978. She was born Lisa Halaby, daughter of a wealthy Arab-American father living in California.

Jordan's sorrow
She has played a prominent role in the life of the kingdom of Jordan and became an international figure in her own right through a combination of glamour and good works.

But Jordanians have never taken to her in quite the same way they did her predecessor, the late Queen Alia.

[ image: She was educated at Princeton University]
She was educated at Princeton University
Perhaps this is because, despite her Arab blood, she has always been seen as culturally alien to the mass of the population.

International projects

Since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Queen Noor has taken up the fight for a worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines. She was instrumental in launching the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty.

She is also patron of several international organisations concerned with development, and the promotion of peace.

[ image: King Hussein's constant companion for 20 years]
King Hussein's constant companion for 20 years
In Jordan, she is involved in numerous projects in health care, education, women's development and environmental protection.

Power behind the throne

There is no doubt King Hussein was a powerful and uncompromising monarch who dominated the country he ruled for more than 40 years.

But many Jordanians saw the influence of Queen Noor behind some of his views and attitudes.

She shocked many Jordanians in 1995 when she appeared inconsolable at the funeral of Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin.

Some, especially those opposed to King Hussein's "warm peace" with Israel, drew uncomfortable conclusions about her ease among Israelis and her popularity there.

Queen Mother in waiting

There are more questions than answers about Queen Noor's future in Jordan under King Abdullah.

The new king is the son of King Hussein's second wife, an Englishwoman divorced by the king, who has remained in Jordan on-and-off since.

Queen Noor has plans for her own son, Prince Hamzah, who, now he has reached his 18th birthday, is being built up as a future king.

But as the ex-Crown Prince Hassan discovered, that is a precarious position.

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