The Dubai-based shipping group will increase its fleet to 24 vessels, from its present 18.

Company chairman, Abdullah al-Shuraim, says the company will buy a range of oil and petrochemical tankers, and has already placed orders for four of these.

The first, built in South Korea with a capacity of 46,000 tonnes, will be delivered in May. A second, also built in South Korea, will arrive before the end of the year.

The next two, built in China, will be delivered in 2009, with the remaining two vessels to be ordered in the near future. All of the initial four tankers will be leased to Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic).

Gulfnav recently announced record profits AED116m in 2007, a 121 per cent increase on 2006.