Within minutes, the revelry of New Year's Eve in Dubai turned to horror as those gathered for fireworks downtown watched flames race up the side of one of the city's most prominent luxury hotels.

But the fire at the 63-storey The Address Downtown Dubai wasn’t the first, second or even third blaze to spread swiftly along the exterior of skyscrapers. It was at least the eighth such fire in the Emirates alone, and similar blazes have struck major cities across the world including in…