On November 28, 2016 customs agents at Cairo International Airport foiled a plot to illegally export a shipment of antique Islamic-era books. Suspicious of the 43-box shipping documentation on objects destined for Doha, Qatar, the items being exported were flagged for further controls. Upon examination by customs officials, the shipment was found to contain a large quantity of antiquarian books and manuscripts. Based on their initial findings, and the markings on some of the books, the shipment was frozen on suspicion that the objects may have been illegally acquired.
Working with Ahmed El-Rawi, head of the Recuperation Antiquities Section of Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities it was decided that a portion of the books and volumes fell under the protection of Egypt's Laws for rare and ancient books, e.g.
To be the product of Egyptian civilization or the successive civilizations or the creation of art, sciences, literature, or religion that took place on the Egyptian lands since the pre-historic ages and during the successive historic ages till before 100 years ago. --Law No. 8 of 2009, as amended in 2014 on the protection of rare and ancient books and manuscripts,
Sixty-six rare books and volumes were seized in total; some dating back to the early printing age. The rare Islamic-era books, having been published during the period needed to be considered as a heritage asset, will be sent to the Egyptian National Library and Archives. Forty-four volumes, that still bore the stamps of the Al-Azhar library, will be returned to the university's library collection.