Iran to offer visas for startups

Iran is offering a visa aimed at attracting startups, innovation and foreign investment. 

The visa is for “innovators and startup managers who are keen on investing in Iran,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Wednesday. 

Individuals who receive the visa can stay in the country from three to six months and will then be eligible to receive residency. Grantees will be expected to establish their business in Iran. The visa regimen was approved late last year, according to the agency. 

Why it matters: The visa move is the latest attempt by the Islamic Republic to fix the ailing economy. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged the poor economic situation in a speech this week, specifically mentioning high inflation. He said that solving the issue immediately is “not realistic.” The ayatollah added that the government is focused on job creation. 

Iran has difficulty attracting foreign investment due to US sanctions, which prohibit doing business with certain Iranian entities. Iran’s energy sector is sanctioned, and Iranian banks have been barred from using the global financial messaging system SWIFT. At the same time, Iran’s trade with its regional neighbors is increasing.

In addition to inflation, Iran also suffers from chronic water shortages, which have led to protests. Iranians are divided on whether government mismanagement or sanctions are more responsible for the country’s economic woes.

Iran is not the only country in the region to create mechanisms aimed at attracting innovators from abroad. Earlier this month, Dubai launched an artificial intelligence license with the goal of attracting AI-focused firms. 

What’s next: There are 25 people being considered for the visa at present. The approval process consists of an evaluation of their project ideas, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. 



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