Federer sauntered through his opening round match, defeating Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3 in 54 minutes, in front of a packed house.
It was the first time Federer had stepped onto court since his Australian Open triumph over Rafael Nadal last month.
"I have played here for so many years, seen the tournament grow," the 35-year-old told assembled media on Monday night.
"Especially after Australia, fans and myself know how special it is for me to be back on the court. It was a nice welcome. Very thankful always."
Federer is next in action on Wednesday.
Federer, who breezed through his opening round match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, beating Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-3 in 54 minutes, has reiterated that his impending schedule will be influenced by how many matches he plays in the coming weeks.
After Dubai, the 35-year-old is due to play in Indian Wells and Miami (starting March 27th).
Federer will decide after Miami whether he wants to add clay court build-up tournaments, if any, to his diary - ahead of the French Open, which begins on May 28th.
Currently, the Swiss has not made any concrete plans beyond the end of March, aside from the Grand Slams and scheduled commitments such as the Laver Cup.
"Yeah, I said it already in Australia that I will only decide on the clay court swing after Miami," the 18-time Grand Slam winner told media in Dubai on Monday night.
The Frenchman, who faces Egypt's Mohamed Safwat in the round of 32 on Monday, told Sport360: "It will be tough, a lot of big names out here. That's pretty exciting. I'm looking forward to playing here, it's been a while."
Away from tennis, Monfils is no stranger to Dubai as he regularly visits his agent Nicolas Lamperin who lives in the city.
"We go to the marina and we go to the malls. I have a few friends here too," he said.