For almost two centuries, relations between the Rasulids of Yemen (1229–1454) and the Mamluks were characterized by a strong competition over political and economic supremacy in the Red Sea region. This rivalry was most forcefully apparent in Mecca which became the focus of political and religious contest following the destruction of the Abbasid caliphate in Bagdad in 1258. The Rasulid sultans used important emblems of political power, such as the sponsoring of architectural projects in Mecca, the sending of the kiswah and the maḥmal, the striking of coins, and the distribution of gifts, all of which contributed towards reinforcing their regional and local legitimacy.
Historian of Islamic art and architecture, Noha Sadek earned her Ph.D. degree in Middle East and Islamic Studies from the University of Toronto with a thesis on Rasulid architectural patronage. Her on-going research focuses on the art and architecture of Yemen on which she has published in English and French. She is currently a research associate at the CEFAS (Centre Français d’Archéologie et de Sciences Sociales).