(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Maritime industry leaders from Oman will head to Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) 2012 this month as the country's key northern port of Sohar confidently moves ahead with its ambitious expansion plans.With investments exceeding US14bn and one of the largest port development projects in the world, the port of Sohar, along with the Sohar Free Zone, have teamed up in a bid to promote business opportunities as both facilities undergo expansion, with the port facility a hub for chemical trading."Sohar Port has benefited from increased fiscal support from an Oman government, keen to capitalise on the country's strategic location and the potential economic windfall that could realise, including a boost for Omani employment," said Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, the organisers of Seatrade Middle East Maritime 2012, which will provide a focused showcase for the Omani port.In the last five years, Sohar Port has seen steady growth in throughput, with an increase of over 100 per cent in 2011, as well as vessel call growth, which rose by 34 per cent in 2011 against 2010 figures.This has been prompted by regional economic recovery resulting in an increase in the handling of steel and gas-related products, as well as the launch of a new liquid terminal jetty operation. 2011 was also an important year for dry bulk through puts with the launch of new production line facilities. Jindal Shadeed Steel went into full production in 2011 and Brazilian mining giant Vale, which now has its regional headquarters in Sohar has commissioned its first production line.Representatives from Oman Drydock Company - including Sheikh Khalil al Salmi, deputy CEO, Oman Drydock Company - along with Sohar Port and key government representatives will showcase wider development plans for the sector.Seatrade Middle East Maritime 2012, is the premier regional maritime event. The sixth edition of the exhibition and conference will be held in Dubai from November 27-29, at the Dubai World Trade Centre.