Iran said it was lifting visa requirements for 33 countries, including India, Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar, the Iranian Students News Agency said on Thursday."The Ministry of Tourism believes that an open-door policy will showcase Iran's determination to engage with different countries of the world," the semi-official ISNA reported. The decision will increase to 45 the number of countries or territories whose citizens can visit Iran without needing to obtain a visa, it said. ISNA gave a full list of the countries, which included Lebanon, Tunisia, and several Central Asian, African, and Muslim nations. Only one Western-allied European nation was on the list, Croatia, a small 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. Omani nationals had been able to travel to Iran visa-free before this announcement. Iranian pilgrims will for the first time in eight years begin regular travel to Saudi Arabia from Dec 19, Iranian media reported on Wednesday. Many countries including Kenya, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and more have announced visa-free travel for Indian tourists in the recent past.