Paradoxically, it was the Christian kingdom of the Normans that left Sicily with some of the most valuable examples of Islamic art to be found in the Mediterranean basin, albeit with the addition of classical, Byzantine and Iranian elements. Instead of seeking to antagonise its predecessors, the new dynasty consciously assimilated Islamic culture and customs, looking to the contemporary Muslim world for the refined culture that it could offer. Contact between the cultures was not limited to Muslims who had remained on the island, but most notably extended to the relationship between the Norman court and the Fatimid Caliphate of Cairo, which is evident from diplomatic and commercial relations and even in the exchange of gifts, such as those between Caliph
al-Hafiz (r. 1131–49) and Ruggero II. It is highly likely that some of the craftsmen employed in the royal Norman workshops came from Egypt.