Many players in the global shipping industry are seeking to benefit from the Middle East’s growing shipping market – but UAE-registered Emarat Maritime continues to set its sights elsewhere.
The ship-owning and operating arm of the Sharaf Group is determined to maintain its international business model despite the regional successes of the shipping industry resulting from increasing global demand for oil.
The firm is one of the few UAE shipping companies that operates in the tramp trade and concentrates on international waters.
“Our business model has proved successful over the years and we are not about to abandon it to concentrate on regional shipping,” Sharafudin Sharaf, chairman of Emarat Maritime and vice-president of Sharaf Group, told Emirates Business.
“We want to concentrate on the market that we understand better. We have experienced steady growth in our core market since we started our operations and have managed to diversify into several shipping sectors.”
Dubai-based Emarat Maritime commenced operations in 1990, focusing primarily on the agriculture products trade from the Indian
A decline in the agri products sector in the late 1990s shifted the company’s focus to the dry bulk markets and in 2001 it acquired its first Handymax bulk carrier.
The company’s core markets remains India, China, Indonesia and Australia but its ships go as far as the United States, South America and West Africa. Its typical cargoes are iron ore from India to China and minerals transported out of China. Coal is also transported from Indonesia to Australia.
“Our ships go to areas where cargoes are offered and we position our fleet according to the requirements and demand. On the dry bulk side we concentrate mainly on the Asia-Pacific region.
“Building materials such as steel and aggregates are in very heavy demand globally these days. With regard to our ships the surge in export goods from China and other parts of Asia means these routes continue to be lucrative,” said Sharaf.
While concentrating on its international business model Emarat Maritime is waking up to the vast opportunities presented by the tanker market, especially in the Middle East. In 2006 the company embarked on an ambitious expansion plan that involved diversifying its interests with a move into the tanker sector. That year Emarat Maritime placed an order for four oil tankers with Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Korea’s fifth largest shipyard, for Dh958 million. The Aframax vessels, with a capacity of 114,000 deadweight tonnes each, will be delivered by the end of August 2009.
Five months later the company placed another order for four Aframax vessels with Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction. The ships will be built at the Yeongdo Shipyard for delivery from October 2009 to the end of 2010.
Emarat Maritime’s Managing Director Jitendra Misra said: “We realised that the tanker market was growing rapidly due to increasing oil prices and demand so we decided to venture into that sector as well.”
The company has interests in containers, breakbulk tankers and project cargo and Misra believes flexibility across these key sectors has contributed to its success.
Emarat Maritime has a fleet of 10 bulk carriers with five more under construction and due to be delivered by January 2013. It also has four liners.
Misra said the firm did not consider the UAE and the rest of the Gulf Co-operation Council region favourable markets for its bulk carriers since very little was exported from these countries. “The increase in trade in the UAE has not filtered down to the sectors where we trade,” he added. “Perhaps in future when companies set up steel manufacturing units they will require raw material such as coal. That is when we will be there to participate.”
Emarat Maritime eyes more success beyond the region