Caio Canedo's strike midway through the first half set the UAE on their way to a 2-1 win over Syria in their opening match of the Fifa Arab Cup 2021 on Tuesday.
The Al Ain striker capped a man-of-the-match performance to score and assist Ali Saleh six minutes later.
A goal on the hour from Ward Al Salama set up a tense finish at the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium in Doha but Bert van Marwijk's side held out for three points to open their Group B account.
The result sees the national team in second place behind Tunisia who were 5-1 winners over Mauritania earlier Tuesday.
The top two teams from each of the four groups will progress to the knockout round.
The UAE next play Mauritania on Friday before taking on group favourites Tunisia three days later.
In Tuesday's other matches, hosts Qatar beat Bahrain 1-0 after Iraq were held to a draw by Oman in Group A.