Victor Perez was feeling comfortable in the rarefied air at the top of the leaderboard after a second consecutive 65 handed him a one shot lead heading into the weekend at the 2020 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
Since claiming a maiden European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September, the Frenchman has finished outside of the top 20 just once, securing two runner up finishes in Rolex Series events and a top five at the World Golf Championships event in China.
That run has seen him rise to 41st on the Official World Golf Ranking and he continued to show his class in round two at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, moving to ten under, a shot clear of Malaysia's Gavin Green.
"I feel like I'm getting more confident and it's about getting reps," he said.
"You see Lee Westwood winning in Abu Dhabi - he's been winning for so long, he knows his way around and what to do. He has a very clear idea of what he needs to do out there and I'm getting more comfortable out there.
"It's just about putting yourself in contention as much as possible and then you see how you play.
"I was able to play really well yesterday and obviously coming out this morning, this is the round where you have to try to take as much advantage as you can and put some points on the board. I'm in a very good position for tomorrow."
McDowell three putted the 11th from 20 feet to leave fellow overnight leader Green in front on his own but both of them were soon passed by the surging Perez.
The 27-year-old turned in 31 with birdies on the 13th, 15th, 17th and 18th and, when he put an approach to three feet at the second, he was in double figures and led by four.
McDowell had birdied the 15th and he got up and down on the par five fourth to cut the lead to three before Perez could not do the same from the sand on the par three third.
The Northern Irishman used the contours of the green at the fifth to set up another gain from six feet but the lead was back to two as Perez played an excellent pitch into the fourth.
Perez then missed a six foot par putt on the sixth and McDowell was one back in the clubhouse as he parred his way home.
The leader was in trouble off the ninth tee but played an excellent second to ten feet and rolled home to lead by two once more.
In the afternoon, Green birdied his opening hole before bogeying the 12th but picked up shots on the 15th, first and fourth to get within one. An excellent approach to the sixth helped put him in a share of the lead but he bogeyed the eighth to slip back to nine under.
The 26-year-old is looking for his first European Tour victory and is looking forward to playing with Perez on day three - with the two sharing a friendship from their time as roommates at the University of New Mexico.
"Playing with Victor tomorrow, I think it will be fun," he said. "It's just like college days again. It's been a while. I know he's been playing really good so I'll just have fun with him tomorrow."
Paratore birdied the fourth, seventh, tenth, 14th, 16th and 18th with a single dropped shot on the ninth.