Poulter is tied with Richard Bland and Keith Horne for first at 7-under-par 65 after the opening round in the $2.1 million tournament in the United Arab Emirates. None of the leaders suffered a bogey in their rounds.
Sergio Garcia leads a group of nine players tied for fourth at 6-under with four golfers at 5-under and another eight three strokes off the lead.
Poulter was 3-under after five holes and pushed his advantage with three birdies over Nos. 9-12. He had five consecutive pars before the finishing 4 at the par-5, 557-yard 18th hole that he capped by dropping a putt from 70 feet away.
Bland's round included consecutive birdies on Nos. 8-12. Horne had an eagle 3 at the 599-yard second hole, added birdies on two of the next three holes and sprinkled three birdies over the back nine for his 65.