Iran to lift visa rules for 33 countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia

'Open-door policy' shows willingness to engage with different nations, semi-official news agency says

Iran's capital Tehran. Citizens from 33 countries will soon be able to visit Iran without needing to obtain a visa. Photo: Hosein Charbaghi
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Iran is set to lift visa requirements for 33 countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the semi-official Isna news agency said on Thursday.

The decision is the latest in a string of moves signifying improving relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia after years of tension.

Iran and Saudi Arabia restored diplomatic relations under a Chinese-mediated agreement in March after they were cut in 2016.

“The Ministry of Tourism believes that an open-door policy will showcase Iran's determination to engage with different countries of the world,” Isna said.

Qatar and Bahrain, with whom Iran has yet to re-establish full ties, were also included in the list.

Lebanon, Tunisia and India were also included, alongside several Central Asian and African nations.

Croatia, a member of the EU and Nato, was the only western-allied European nation on the list.

It will mean citizens from 45 countries or territories can visit Iran without needing to obtain a visa.

Omani citizens had already been allowed to travel to Iran without a visa.

Russians “will only profit from this visa exemption if they are visiting the country in groups”, Isna said.

For the first time in eight years, Iranian pilgrims will begin regular travel to Saudi Arabia from December 19, Iranian media reported on Wednesday.

Updated: December 15, 2023, 9:09 AM