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The Mideast

Experts fear Dubai's skyscrapers could become towering infernos

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Feb. 7, 2012: High rise towers are seen near the Dubai Marina in Dubai. (Reuters)

Shiny, new skyscrapers are popping up along Dubai’s skyline, but building experts fear that one of them could become a towering inferno.

Thom Bohlen, chief technical officer of the Middle East Center for Sustainable Development, told the BBC that around 70 percent of the high-rise buildings built in United Arab Emirates cities like Sharjah and Dubai have been covered with aluminum facades, which are highly flammable.

"[The facades] are good-looking, long-lasting and easy to maintain, but they have one big problem -- they burn rapidly," he said.

Potential fires at an estimated 500 buildings could start from discarded cigarette butts or unattended charcoal grills, the BBC reports.

On April 23, a fire broke out at the 20-story Al Hafeet Tower in Sharjah. Fires also ensnared the 34-story Tamweel Tower in Dubai in November 2012 and 40-story Al Tayer tower in Sharjah in April 2012.

Bohlen said the UAE has passed new laws banning the use of flammable facades, but only in the construction of new buildings.

Click for more from the BBC.