Stephen Gerard’s side, captained by Jordan Henderson, were unable to fight their way back into proceedings after first-half goals from Malcom and Salem Aldawsari.
Victory moves Al-Hilal to within two points of Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad, while Al-Ettifaq and Stephen Gerard remain fifth with just seven points from four matches.
Gerrard is now winless in his last two matches in charge of one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest clubs amidst a difficult start to managerial life in the Middle East.
The hosts handed a first home start to former Fulham striker Aleksandr Mitrovic after he scored on his debut with a trademark header following his £50m move, however they are still waiting to give Neymar his first outing while the Brazilian recovers from injury.
Meanwhile, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was suspended after being sent off in their 4-0 away win over Al-Raed last time out, but were further strengthened by ex-Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly and former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves.
Henderson led out Al-Ettifaq in his first away clash after recovering from a short-term illness, but struggled early on as Al-Hilal struck twice in the first-half.
Brazilian striker Malcom fired the hosts ahead in the 24th minute after being played through by Mitrovic following some neat build-up play.
The 26-year-old latched onto a through-ball and finished with a powerful strike across the face of goal into the bottom corner.
Matters were made worse for Gerrard’s team when Aldawsari doubled the hosts’ lead just four minutes before half-time with a brilliant strike.
A bouncing ball ricocheted around the penalty area before falling to the 32-year-old who rifled a scissor-kick finish past the Al-Ettifaq goalkeeper.
The visitors attempted to respond with late substitutions but lacked potency in the final third as the hosts wrapped up a comfortable win.