Iran removes visa requirements for 33 countries

swimming pool near building and trees

Iran has said it is lifting visa requirements for 33 countries, including Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Iranian student news agency ISNA reported Thursday. Iran's Tourism Ministry believes that the open door policy will demonstrate Iran's eagerness to interact with different countries around the world, according to ISNA news agency. The decision will increase the number of countries whose citizens can visit Iran without a visa to 45. This is another step to mend relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia as two oil-producing rivals.

Iran and Saudi Arabia will restore full diplomatic relations, cut off in 2016, through an agreement in March. The decision to lift the visa requirement includes citizens of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, with which Tehran has yet to restore full ties. The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) published the full list of countries, which includes India, Tunisia, Lebanon, several Central Asian, African and Muslim countries. There is only one Western European country on the list, Croatia. For Russian citizens, visa-free travel will be available for group visits. Omani citizens had already been able to visit Iran without a visa before this announcement. Iranian pilgrims will begin regular trips to Saudi Arabia for the first time in eight years starting December 19.

Learn more about visas to Iran