It is located in the heart of historical Paris, in the 5th arrondissement, on the Place Mohammed V, between the Quai Saint-Bernard and the Jussieu campus.
The building was designed by a group of architects (Jean Nouvel and Architecture-Studio 1) that there has tried a synthesis between Arab culture and western culture.
The construction of this building, although part of the policy of public works intended by François Mitterrand, was decided under the seven-Valéry Giscard d’Estaing to improve diplomatic relations between France and the Arab countries. It was inaugurated on 30 November 1987 by President Mitterrand.
The Institute is a member of the Forum of foreign cultural institutes in Paris and Trade and radio productions (EPRA). It is sometimes called the “Arab Beaubourg”, in reference to the Pompidou Center.