The Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies (Middle East & Central Asia) (CAIS) forms part of the ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences at The Australian National University and is Australia’s premier location for studies in this field, with a high international standing and links with its major counterparts in the Arab & Muslim world, as well as in North America and Europe.
The Centre integrates the study of Middle Eastern and Central Asian contemporary politics, history, culture, political economy, economics, and the role of Islam within the broader framework of the changing global order. The Centre fosters the study of the region’s most relevant languages of Arabic, Persian and Turkish. It also focuses on issues pertinent to Australia's interests in, and the development of its commercial, scientific and industrial ties with, its areas of coverage.
CAIS is a multi-disciplinary teaching and research Centre, with cognitive links with the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific, as well as professional association with its other Colleges. Its activities are guided by a twenty-one member Advisory Board and a group of international advisers, made up of prominent scholars in Arab, Islam, Middle Eastern and Central Asian studies.
The Centre was founded by ANU in 1994, led by Distinguished Professor Amin Saikal AM, a specialist in the politics, history, political economy and international relations of the Middle East and Central Asia.
The founding director, Distinguished Professor Saikal initially established the Centre for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies to educate the public and policymakers about the complexities of the politics and societies of the Muslim Middle East and Central Asia. Distinguished Professor Saikal oversaw the change to the current name, the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS) in 2000.
Since its establishment, CAIS has become the largest centre of its kind in Australia, with a strong academic record of teaching, research, outreach and public advice at the national and international levels.