Given that my daughter attended GEMS American Academy in Abu Dhabi, I feel like I should comment on this. GEMS provided for a great educational experience for her and for so many other students from all over the world.
It did not teach “sharia” to its students, and certainly not in the manner that is typically implied by uninformed and incurious “journalists”. What it did do was to teach “Islamic Studies” to its Muslim students. This is in line with the regulations of the UAE, and is true of all schools in the country. I was actually impressed that the ex-patriot students who were not Muslim were offered alternative education experiences during these class periods.
The UAE is an Islamic country. It does not have a “separation of church and state”. Islam is a core component of the identity and social order of Emiratis. This does not translate automatically to the implied meaning from Fox News when it uses the term. In this case, it does not translate in fact either.
With respect to funding “jihad”, this is also an extraordinarily dubious claim. Like “sharia”, the meaning of “jihad” is loaded with a lot of meaning in the U.S. that strips it of its more non-violent attributes. Unless Fox can provide evidence that GEMS is funding violent groups, then it is doing one of two things here. Either it is reporting an outright lie, or it is intentionally and strategically using terms like “sharia” and “jihad” because of their implied meaning to its audience (knowing that that association is absolutely wrong in this case) in order to stir up another pseudo controversy. Either way, it is engaged in profoundly irresponsible reporting.