On his debut in the event, Forrest sits joint-15th after backing up a gutsy 73 on Thursday with a four-under-par 68 in the second round on the Majlis Course.
The 26-year-old, who is developing a good habit of shooting low numbers in second rounds, is just five shots off the lead, held by Englishman Eddie Pepperell, in the $3.5 million tournament.
"I would say the tougher it is, the more I prefer it," said Forrest after making seven birdies on a course which has the thickest rough he's played on while the greens are also fast and firm.
“I have not played this tournament before, so it’s not come as a surprise as much as it has to those who have played here for 10 years plus.
"If you keep it on the short stuff, there are still plenty of chances, so you can still make a good score. It’s also a fair test."
Forrest, who comfortably held on to his card last season and tied for fourth in Mauritius in his second start in the 2020 campaign, made his second-round score with a burst of four straight birdies around the turn.
“I was in a fairway bunker on nine and to walk off with a birdie was huge momentum-wise," he said of that burst. "I then just played solid on the way in."Bob MacIntyre is next best among the Scots, sitting joint-32nd on level-par after showing what he is made of with a strong finish when he had been in danger of making an early exit.
The 23-year-old, who is making his first appearance of the new season, hit an 8-iron from the semi-rough to 10 feet for a birdie at the tough par-4 sixth before rolling in a 35-footer for a 2 at the next.
"After not playing for eight weeks, to make the cut here shows where my golf is at," said MacIntyre after signing for a two-under 70. "I've still got the game and the fight right at the end sums up how I play golf - I throw everything at it."
Also making his debut, last season's Rookie of the Year was delighted to make the cut in his first outing in eight weeks, having delayed his start to the new campaign due to a hand problem.
"This week realistically I'm probably not going to compete," he added. "The driver would have had to been performing for that to happen and I didn't drive it well again today.
"But making the cut is a big step for me. It gets me on the Race to Dubai board this year and it gets us rolling."
His left hand is holding up, as he was happy to discover when it was given a serious test after his drive at the 14th ended up behind a small bush in the desert.
"I said to Greg [Milne, his caddie), 'if it doesn't break here, it is never going to break," reported MacIntyre, laughing. "I hit it really hard, as everyone would do whether you had a sore hand or two good hands. There was no pain.
"I'm not getting any treatment on my hand at all, just the rest of my body after not playing for eight weeks."
David Drysdale (71) and Scott Jamieson (71) are tied for 42nd on one-over, one better than both David Law (71) and Richie Ramsay (73) in joint-54th.
Two-time winner Stephen Gallacher (six-over) and Paul Lawrie (nine-over) were the odd ones out among the Scots as they missed the cut.