She and her husband Albert decided to leave ? or rather "she decided," Albert Hreish said.
"I didn't want my children to grow up and carry a machine gun," Nouha Hreish said.
"It was a war for real estate," Albert Hreish said. The 15-year civil war ended in 1991, crippling Lebanon's economy and facilities. The influx of thousands of Palestinian refugees fleeing to Lebanon after the Arab-Israeli conflicts caused tensions to boil over between Lebanese political parties and Palestinians, leading to a conflict that left the country with no effective government.
The Hreish family packed their belongings in one car and drove through the mountains of Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, crossing into Syria, then Jordan, where they got their papers. They left behind a thriving jewelry business and emigrated to Canada.
After they made their way to the U.S. from Canada in 1982, Nouha and Albert Hreish decided to open Noal Jewelry Designs, initially in Westminster. They later moved to the Edinger Avenue location in Huntington Beach, where they have been for 22 years. This is the fourth generation of Hreishes in the jewelry-making business.
To start the business, Nouha took courses at the Gemological Institute of America as friends from the neighborhood helped Noal Jewelry grow by word of mouth.
"She came to this country from a war-torn Lebanon and started a successful business here," said Harman, who worked with Hreish on business-development opportunities for Huntington Beach. "She is also highly recognized in the community," he added.
"You can build your own identity here rather than be known as the wife of so-and-so," she said.