Iran to host World Cup fans after agreement with Qatar. Iran is planning to expand air and sea travel while relaxing visa rules.
09 May 2022, 12:00 AM
31 May 2022, 12:00 AM
Iran hopes to host fans of the men’s football World Cup that will be held in Qatar later this year after it has reached a series of agreements with Qatar.
The Qatari transport minister, Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti, was hosted by Iran’s roads minister Rostam Ghasemi during a two-day visit to the resort island of Kish. Al-Sulaiti also met Saeed Mohammad, the head of the Organization of Free Trade-Industrial Zones of Iran.
On Monday, the two countries signed an agreement for operations to link the Doha Flight Information Region (FIR) with the Tehran FIR, Qatar News Agency reported. They also agreed to increase the number of flights between them and discussed enhancing transport cooperation and private investment opportunities in the port sector.
Iranians hope the increased cooperation will facilitate fans’ stay on Kish island, which is a 40-minute flight or a six-hour boat journey away from Doha, in addition to boosting boat routes and flights that would take fans back and forth at regular intervals.
Stays in Iran will likely be much cheaper for foreign visitors than those in Qatar, in part because of the battering the Iranian rial has taken due to sanctions imposed by the United States in recent years.
Iranian authorities hope fans staying on Kish and travelling back and forth during the World Cup could benefit the country’s tourism sector, which has been significantly affected in recent years by the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sanctions.
While Kish is the main focus, Iranian authorities also hope to be able to utilise other islands and cities of the southern Hormozgan Province to welcome fans.
They also wish to potentially extend some of the measures beyond the World Cup, which starts in November, in order to boost tourism and travel ties between the two countries, but the details are still unclear.
Mohammad Mohammadi, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisation, said there are now 72 flights between Iran and Qatar daily. That number, he said, could be boosted to 100 flights per day.
Iran is also trying to employ new cruise ships to facilitate sea travel to Qatar. Deputy Roads Minister Ali Akbar Safaei promised several new cruise lines will be activated by Eid al-Fitr in May.
Iran is also expected to waive visas required for incoming visitors from Qatar to encourage and facilitate more travel.