Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was a fraction of a second quicker in Saturday's qualifying at the 3.5-mile, 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit with a time of 1 minute, 39.957 seconds.
Webber claimed his second pole of the season, edging Vettel by 0.118 seconds.
"It was a good lap at a track which in the past has not been super and invigorating for me in terms of layout," said Webber. "I'm really looking forward to the race."
Vettel has won the past six F1 events and last week clinched the season championship by winning the Indian Grand Prix. The last driver to win seven consecutive grand prix was Michael Schumacher in 2004.