Ariel was born and raised in Indonesia. He obtained his first two university degrees in Education from Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana (Indonesia). He got a Master of Arts degree in Asian studies from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (USA). His doctoral degree is in Anthropology from Monash University.

Before joining Monash in 2017, Ariel was a faculty member at National University of Singapore (1996-1999), The University of Melbourne (2000-2008) and The Australian National University (2009-2017).