Iran approves visa waiver for Saudi Arabia, 32 other countries

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Iran government’s landmark decision will increase to 45 the number of countries or territories whose citizens can visit Iran without needing to obtain a visa.

The Iranian government has agreed to abolish visa requirements for passport holders from 33 countries, including Saudi Arabia.

“The government intends to open the country’s doors to the world,” Iranian Minister of Tourism Ezzatollah Zarghami, told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “The Islamic Republic has shown its readiness to open doors to people worldwide and provide more facilities for them so that they can easily visit our country and benefit from its advantages,” he said.

The government’s landmark decision will increase to 45 the number of countries or territories whose citizens can visit Iran without needing to obtain a visa, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. “The ministry of tourism believes that an open-door policy will showcase Iran’s determination to engage with different countries of the world,” it said.

Citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are included in the decision to waive visa requirements, in addition to Bahrain, with whom Tehran has not yet re-established full ties. Omani nationals had been able to travel to Iran visa-free prior to this announcement.

ISNA gave a full list of the countries, which included Lebanon, Tunisia, India, and several Central Asian, African and Muslim nations. Only one Western-allied European nation was on the list, Croatia, a member of the European Union and NATO. “Russians will only profit from this visa exemption if they are visiting the country in groups,” ISNA added.

The move is another step towards thawing relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular after years of tension between the neighbors. Iranian Umrah pilgrims will begin regular travel to Saudi Arabia for the first time in eight years from Dec. 19, Iranian media reported on Wednesday. Iran and Saudi agreed to restore full diplomatic relations, severed in 2016, under a Chinese-mediated agreement in March this year

Source: Saudi Gazette