The top-ranked Swede had a 15-under 201 total on the Emirates Golf Club's Majlis Course. Australia's Karrie Webb was second after a 70, and European Solheim Cup captain Helen Alfredsson of Sweden was 7 under after a 68.
France's Gwladys Noceras, needing a victory to take the money title from English star Laura Davies, was 15 strokes back at even par after a 72. Davies is skipping the event to play in the LPGA Tour event in South Korea.
Sorenstam opened with bogey after hitting a poor second shot on the par-4 hole and also hit a sub-par approach on the par-5 third that cost her a birdie opportunity.
'I just can't explain what happened in the first few holes,' Sorenstam said. 'But I like to look at the positives, and the fact that I made six birdies in the last 15 holes is good enough for me. I have to be solid on Sunday because I know that Karrie is having a great year and that she is capable of shooting some very low numbers.'
Webb was 1 over on the back nine.
'I was going great till the back nine,' she said. 'I made the turn at 3 under, and then somehow lost my rhythm.
'It would have been great if I had closed the gap with Annika to three shots, but I am very hopeful of putting a fight tomorrow. I have come back from seven strokes behind this year (at the Kraft Nabisco Championship), so I know it can be done.'
After her round Friday, Sorenstam rode a camel and held a falcon during a safari.
'I'm very lucky as I've done a lot of things, but that desert safari was absolutely amazing,' she said. 'Holding the falcon was one of the most memorable things, although it kept flying on and off. The glove came right up my forearm, but I was a little bit worried because it was really heavy. I was thinking, 'I might need my arm tomorrow!''
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.