Federer, seeded fourth this year, has won the tournament five times, including in 2012, and finished second two other times since 2003. He needed just 62 minutes to build on that success with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Benjamin Becker.
Federer dropped only five points -- two on double faults -- on serve in the first set and faced just one break point in the match. He won more than three-quarters of the points on serve.
Eighth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov stopped Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-1 by saving all four break points he saw.
Also Monday, Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Adrian Ungur 6-1, 6-3 with five breaks and Andreas Seppi edged past Florian Mayer 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 by finishing off three of his seven break opportunities in the third set.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is the top seed in Dubai this year. He beat Thomas Berdych 7-5, 6-3 in last year's final.