Tiger hopes his third appearance in the event will be the charm as he seeks his first win in Dubai following a second and fifth place showing in 2001 and 2004.
The reigning champion, Els is coming off a tie for 13th at the Qatar Masters, his first event of the new year. He did, however, win the dunhill championship back in December, the second event of the 2006 European Tour season, following his long layoff from knee surgery.
Tiger did him one better by winning in his first event of the year at the Buick Invitational after his career long sabbatical over the holidays. Woods outlasted Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal in a playoff to get his year started off with a win.
Goosen has also taken a well-deserved month off from golf after edging his fellow countryman Els at the South African Airways Open back in mid-December. Deciding to stay home instead of travel to Hawaii for the start of the PGA Tour season, Goosen is making his first appearance in Dubai since 2001. Goosen has played in this event on seven previous occasions with his best showing being a second back in 1993.
Other top European stars out in the desert are Ian Poulter, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn. Bjorn nipped Tiger in the 2001 event despite Tiger holding the 54-hole lead.
Tiger's buddy Mark O'Meara is also set to return to the site of his last victory when he edged Paul McGinley for the title in 2004.
By making it to the weekend, Els will establish a new European Tour record for consecutive cuts made at 70. He tied the mark last week which he now currently shares with Germany's Bernhard Langer at 69 straight cuts.
The Golf Channel will televise all four rounds beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. (ET), with a prime time repeat of each round starting at 9:30 p.m.