Not in a decade has Venus lost in Dubai, to the long-retired Silvia Farina Elia. Williams' record overall in 2015, 11-1, suggests she's poised to make another deep run.
Here's a closer look at the draw.
We know all about the Spaniard's giant-killing ways.
But Halep - and her fans - are bound to be a little concerned: The nerves got to the Romanian in Melbourne and she also admitted the pressure affected her in the defeat to Muguruza on home soil in the Fed Cup.
As the top seed in Dubai - Serena pulled out and Maria opted to skip Dubai - Halep will be under pressure. So, can she handle it on this occasion?
Halep begins against a tall, big hitter, either wildcard Daniela Hantuchova or Mona Barthel. Given that Halep owns a 3-0 record against the Slovak and has claimed six straight sets, she probably won't mind if Hantuchova is her foe.
Halep faces a potential rematch with Makarova in the quarterfinals, with the Russian perhaps encountering Andrea Petkovic - back into the Top 10 in the new rankings - in the third round.
Settle in if Petkovic and Makarova battle - they went nearly three hours in their lone head-to-head five years ago, the German prevailing.
Prediction: Halep def. Makarova
Second Quarter: Caro, Cornet & The Struggling Seeds
The seeds in the second quarter haven't exactly begun 2015 on fire, have they?
No.7 Angelique Kerber is on her way out of the Top 10 for the first time in three years (but at least Germany can say one of its own takes her spot). Kerber lasted under an hour in Antwerp against a qualifier - albeit one with a Grand Slam pedigree in Francesca Schiavone.
You can understand why No.10 Flavia Pennetta wanted a wildcard in Dubai. She's lost all five of her matches this year, including the Hopman Cup, taking two sets total. Pennetta sure needs some wins ahead of the defense of her title in Indian Wells.
No.15 Alizé Cornet - last year's surprise finalist - owns a 1-3 record in her last four matches, her struggles continuing in the Fed Cup.
And third seed Caroline Wozniacki paid the price for a tough draw at the Australian Open, exiting in the second round to Victoria Azarenka. Having made the final of the previous major, and on a hardcourt, she had grander hopes.
Wozniacki, the 2011 champ, might have an interesting second round match with Samantha Stosur if the Aussie beats qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in round one. They've split their eight matches and Stosur triumphed over the Dane in Beijing in the fall.
Even though she's unseeded, Stosur seems to have caught the same underwhelming bug, going 2-5 in 2015.
Prediction: Wozniacki def. Pennetta
Third Quarter: Venus, The Defending Champion
The last three times Venus Williams has played Dubai she's walked away the champion. But that doesn't come close to explaining her dominance.
In those 15 matches, Williams has never dropped a set - to anyone besides younger sister Serena. It came in the semifinals in 2009, before Venus beat - in a name probably never to be forgotten by the World No.1 - Virginie Razzano.
If she backs up last year, Venus will return to the Top 10 for the first time since March 2011, since ranking points from Dubai won't drop off this year until after Doha.
Is Karolina Pliskova the player that can finally dethrone Venus in Dubai in a possible quarterfinal clash? The big-serving Czech keeps establishing new career-highs in the rankings.
Prediction: Pliskova def. Williams
With three qualifiers in her immediate vicinity, it might seem that this is the tournament where Radwanska - 1-2 in Dubai since bagging the title in 2012 - can build some confidence.
But looming in the second round is Caroline Garcia.
One gets the feeling that Garcia, fresh off a superb performance in the Fed Cup that helped France to an improbable 3-2 win in Italy, could be buoyed by that momentum for a while.
It's difficult not to see Muguruza in the third round. She starts against a qualifier and would take on a qualifier or Jelena Jankovic, troubled by a back injury, in the second.
Carla Suárez Navarro used to be a clay court specialist but those days are gone. Muguruza's doubles partner is adept on hardcourts, too, proving it again in Antwerp.
Are the two destined to meet in the last eight?
Petra Kvitova will want to play a part. But which Kvitova shows up? The one that won the title in 2013 or the one that hasn't won a match in Dubai aside from that year? Note that Kvitova fell in her opener last year to Suárez Navarro.
Prediction: Muguruza def. Suárez Navarro
Semifinals: Wozniacki def. Halep, Muguruza def. Pliskova