The Centre was firstly established as one of the core UKM research institutes on 8 October 2007, known as the Institute of West Asian Studies (IKRAB). On 15 August 2013, IKMAS merged with IKRAB. Following the restructuring, IKRAB becomes one of the four Centres focusing on new area studies in the wider West Asian region.
The Centre adopts the wider geographical interpretation of West Asia, covering not only the Arab states but several countries located strategically in Central Asia, South Asia, Mediterranean and North Africa.
The Centre envisions to foster an exchange of ideas and knowledge about West Asia, and to contribute to the conversation on the future of West Asian societies and in the search for solutions to current issues faced by the peoples of the region. The Centre hopes to become a reference point in Malaysia and the wider Southeast Asia for under-researched areas
The Centre envisions to establish, strengthen and deepen research collaboration, teaching and expertise in the following research areas: