Iran said on Tuesday it had appointed an ambassador to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since 2016, amid a realignment of relations between Gulf states and Iran. The move comes after the UAE in August moved to upgrade ties and said it was returning its ambassador to Tehran. The UAE downgraded relations with Iran after Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric. In a step change to years of hostility between Iran and Saudi Arabia that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria, Riyadh last month said it would re-establish relations with Tehran in a China-brokered deal. The UAE, which has business and trade ties with Iran stretching back more than a century, started re-engaging with Tehran in 2019 after attacks in Gulf waters and on Saudi energy sites. The UAE’s Dubai emirate has long being one of Iran’s main links to the outside world. Iran’s newly appointed ambassador Reza Ameri had served as the director general of the Iranian expatriates office in the foreign ministry, Iranian state media said.