Kuwait from the Sky

Posted by Mark

Cinemagics recently got their hands on a CineFlex camera and proceeded to shoot Kuwait from the sky. It’s the second time they bring the camera to Kuwait and the video above is a collection of shots from the two. It’s Kuwait like you’ve never seen it before so check it out. [YouTube]


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Benihana Lawsuit Update

Posted by Mark

Just an update on whats going on with the Benihana lawsuit. Back in late April I posted about how I won the lawsuit against Benihana and how I thought it was a great victory since it reinforced the right for us bloggers in Kuwait to state our personal opinions. Well around a month after the victory Benihana appealed the courts decision which is their right to do and we headed to court once again. Except the second time it didn’t go so well.

Yesterday I found out that the court ruled in favor of Benihana and have ordered me to now pay them the sum of KD1,000. The court still hasn’t released their decision for this ruling and I have to wait around 2 weeks to find that out. I of course will be appealing the decision and be heading back to court to defend our right of freedom of expression. Once I have anymore updates will post them here.

If you have no idea what lawsuit I am talking about click [Here]


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I won the lawsuit!!!

Posted by Mark

I’m really not a good writer neither am I great in speeches which is what I believe this verdict deserves. I was extremely nervous today waiting to find out the outcome as you can imagine and it was such an incredible relief to find out I won.

I’m really not sure what to say other than the fact this ruling goes to show how much freedom of speech is highly respected in Kuwait. I love living here and I love having the right to state my personal opinion on this blog. I really want to thank EVERYONE for all the support that you gave me. Seriously what you guys did was just incredible and really gave me the courage to fight this out till the end. I also want to thank my lawyer Khaled Al Shamali from The Group Law Firm for taking this case and doing an amazing job. And most importantly I want to thank the judge and the court for their ruling.

I hope no other blogger will have to go through what I did and I hope the result of this case will serve as an example that you can’t stop people from stating their personal opinions.

Thanks again everyone!

PS: If you have no idea what lawsuit I am talking about click [Here]


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Benihana Lawsuit Update: The Second Hearing

Posted by Mark

As you already know by now I am currently being sued by the Las Palmas Restaurant Company who own Benihana and Subway in Kuwait. They’re suing me over my review which you can read [Here] in case you missed it. Today was the second hearing and this is just an update of what happened.

During the first hearing Benihana submitted documents to back up their claim and my lawyer had requested time to review the printouts and the judge gave us one month. The documents submitted by Benihana were basically print outs of my Benihana review, my Benihana media round up post and a print out of my Facebook page.. actually not my page but what you see when you search for my name.

Today my lawyer presented documents to prove that when I had posted my review I didn’t have any ill intent towards Benihana or Las Palmas Restaurant Company and that my post was based on my experience which happened to be a negative one. The documents my lawyer submitted were print outs of previous posts in which I had spoken positive things about Benihana as well as posts in which I had spoken positive things about two other brands owned by Las Palmas which are Subway and Charley’s Grilled Subs. Their lawyers then requested from the judge time to review the documents but the judge refused and instead set a third court date for April 26th in which a decision will be made on this case.

I’m crossing my fingers…


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Benihana Lawsuit Update: The First Hearing

Posted by Mark

As you already know by now I am currently being sued by the Las Palmas Restaurant Company who own Benihana and Subway in Kuwait. They’re suing me over my review which you can read [Here] in case you missed it. Anyway today was the first hearing and this is just an update of what happened.

My lawyer went to the court but I didn’t since it turned out I didn’t have to. At the court the Benihana lawyer basically stated their accusation which is the same one as the court order which is that I conspired with the company I work for against Benihana to benefit my company and their competitors which I mentioned in my post; Chocolate Bar, Maki, Wasabi and Pinkberry. They also submitted documents related to the case and now my lawyer has a month to study the documents and prepare our defense for the next session which is April 12th.

So there currently isn’t much to share other than that. Thank you everyone again for your support.

Note: I created a new category on the right which will contain all my posts related to the lawsuit.


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Yes, Benihana are still suing me

Posted by Mark

I know I haven’t mentioned anything about the Benihana case recently and thats not because they’ve dropped the case against me but because I’m trying to keep a bit of normality on the blog. Today though blogs around the world have taken my original Benihana review and reposted it on their blogs while twitter also lit up with supporters tweeting against Benihana’s actions. So, I decided to post a status update on the situation so far.

Yes, Benihana are still suing me

If you don’t know what all this is about here is a quick summary. Last December I passed by Benihana for dinner and then the same night I posted about my experience which wasn’t that great. The next day a person claiming to be the GM of Benihana commented on my post threatening to sue me for my review. A month later I got served with a court order, Benihana was suing me for posting a not so positive review.

After getting the court order and talking to my lawyer, I decided to share with everyone what was happening to me. Originally I had thought this lawsuit was just going to affect me but I quickly realized this lawsuit was bigger than me since the outcome of this case would affect all the bloggers in the region. The amount of support I started receiving from people was unimaginable. Bloggers and tweeters all around the world posted what they thought about this lawsuit and the media quickly picked up on it.

As of today the case still hasn’t been dropped by Benihana and I am still being sued by them. According to the court order they’re suing me for a yet undisclosed amount that will be over $18,000. I am not sure why they want my money and I really think this lawsuit is unfair. Being sued for a review that wasn’t even that negative is just ridiculous.

My court date is still scheduled for March 8th. Below are links to my previous Benihana posts. Thank you once again everyone for your support.

My Benihana Experience
I’m being sued by Benihana
Media coverage on Benihana post


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Media coverage on Benihana lawsuit

Posted by Mark

I’ve tried collecting all the coverage this case has gotten so far and will be updating this post throughout this trial as new sources pop up.

Thank you everyone for your support. It’s just been incredible.

Blogs
Fake Plastic Souks: Benihana Bashes Bloggers
BoingBoing: Benihana Kuwait sues blogger for $18,000 over bad review
Trying to be Fahad: Defamation or Constructive Criticism?
Catalyze: How not to respond to negative feedback
Snow in Kuwait: 248AM Blogger getting sued
Chicken Nugget: Benihana suing mark from 248am
His & Hers Q8: Being sued for a review
Ansam 518: Mark vs Lawsuit
LWDLK: Benihana suing the blogger of 248am
SuddenlyTwo: Benihana Kuwait #FAIL
Sandier Pastures: Benihana Kuwait sues blogger
oi Nagham!: Benihana vs The People
Lebanon News: Benihana Goes Bananas; Manager Stereotypes Lebanese
+961: Benihana sues one of the most popular bloggers in Kuwait
Who Sane: A Very Unnecessary PR Disaster
Blog 37: Social suicide by Benihana
Desert Girl: Mark at 248AM gets sued by Benihana
Beirut Drive-By Shooting: Shut up!
Irrelevant Combinations: One beef negimaki, and a lawyer please
Mich Cafe: Brand fiasco unites bloggers
SuddenlyTwo: Benihana Kuwait #FAIL
Oman Collective Intelligence: Benihana Kitchen Nightmares!
The Side Talk: Mark & 248AM being sued over honest review
Siouxsie Law: Kuwaiti Blogger Sued Over Bad Benihana Review
American Girl In Kuwait: “BTW, are you Lebanese?”
qEight: Local blogger in Kuwait sued by Benihana
Buzfairy: A really bad move from Benihana Kuwait, suing 248am
BeirutSpring: Benihana In Kuwait is a Terrible, Terrible Place. Stay Away From It.
Electrony: مطعم يرفع قضية على مدونة إلكترونية ويطالب بخمس آلاف دينار وإغلاق المدونة
iBloogle: Bloggers Unite – for the Right to Freedom of Online Speech
Q8HK: نحن معك يا مارك … دعم لمدونة A-Sides
Kuwaits Blog: Mark kuwaiti blogger sued by Benihana
Blog Baladi: Blogger sued over restaurant review
Chaotic pOsha: Benihana suing Mark!
18 Seven: اي شي يا بينيهانا
n3alba7ar: المدون مارك و قضية المطعم اليابانى
Ashish Panjabi: The Benihana Debacle
Desert Blvd: Benihana, Shame On You!
Khaled Rambles: Restaurant sues blogger in Kuwait
Blogger Mathai: Benihana Kuwait sues local blogger for negative review!
Techania: مطعم في الكويت يجن جنونه بسبب تعبير صريح للرأي من قبل مدوّن
Cyrographics: Kuwait’s 248am Blogger being sued by Benihana over a negative review
Hell is other people: #benihanakuw I bet you feel foolish now dont you!
B&D: Everyone’s Outraged as Benihana sues 248am over Bad Reviews
Marketing in Lebanon: The Art of Creating a PR Crisis
The Market Buzz: How much is your reputation worth?
Life in Dubai: Sued for saying he didn’t like his meal.
Life & Beyond: Sued for Writing a Bad Review!
Mind Soup: Benihana: We sue customers to compensate for our bad food
BABBLEQ8: Freedom of speech and its importance…
Roashina: 248am Lawsuit on Wikipedia
4th Ring Road: Order in the Court?
p0ach: Benihana, you ruined my vacation
Ashraf’s Blog: I Sue You!!!
The Identity Chef: Exporting Your “Brand” has New Challenges in the New Media World – Benihana Learns Firsthand.
Ashish Panjabi: Hints, Tips, Reviews – How will Benihana keep track of them?
Mr Qatar: Kuwaiti blogger sued… for a review…
Expat Life Coach: Why an expat blogger is getting sued in Kuwait
Life in Dubai: Benihana Update
MakChicken: Weather: Sunny with a high chance of getting sued by Benihana…
Ammouret Lebnen: Sued for not liking his dinner!
Nimer: Mark 248am.com got sued because he did not like the food
The Right Profile: Ignominy
Daily Mail: Kuwait blogger sued for restaurant review
America Blog: Benihana suing blogger for mediocre restaurant review
UAE Community Blog: Benihana Kuwait and Justice
Village Voice: Benihana Sues Over Crap Review
Starving for More: Silly Food Lawsuits
KiwiBlog: Cooking up a storm in Kuwait blogging

News Media
DubaiEye Radio Interview
Twitter
The National
TNW Social Media
Gulf News
CNN iReport
KippReport
Emirates 24/7
Arabian Business
Emirates 24/7 (2nd)
Kuwait Times
Econsultancy
Slashdot
Reputation Online
Honk Kong Association of New Media
Stuff Magazine
Huffington Post
Global Voices
TechDirt
Fast Company
Zawya
The Atlantic Wire
The Muslim Observer
LA Weekly
The Stir
Digg


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I’m being sued by Benihana

Posted by Mark

Yesterday I got served with a court order, Benihana are suing me because of my post about my experience at their restaurant. If you haven’t read that post yet you can check it out by clicking [Here]

I’m currently getting legal advice from my lawyer Khaled Al Shamali who is actually a fan of my blog (that’s important) and I will be fighting this case in court. Originally my lawyer told me not to discuss this case with anyone but I feel it is important to share this with everyone since it doesn’t just effect me but the whole blogging community be it in Kuwait, UAE or anywhere else in the region. So after talking to my lawyer again, he’s now given me the green light to be transparent and open with everyone regarding this case.

I’ve uploaded the court order I received yesterday and you can download it from [Here]

The court order is in Arabic but if someone ends up translating it to English I will post it up as well. Benihana have the right to sue me but I don’t believe I said or did anything wrong and I stand behind everything I said and wrote in that post.

I’ve personally been threatened with lawsuits a number of times before, I know another popular blog recently got threatened with a lawsuit from a restaurant as well and I am sure there must be other bloggers who at one point in time have also been threatened. If blogs were recognized like newspapers or magazines we would all be protected from lawsuits like this but at the moment we aren’t. I find this unfair and if I end up losing this case what will it mean to all the other bloggers? Should bloggers be afraid to say anything negative about a company? Should all our posts just be happy happy joy joy?

I’m hopefully not going to lose this case and will try my best to win it and set an example so that other companies understand that if they don’t like something they read on a blog they can’t just sue the blogger.

I’ve been receiving an overwhelming amount of support on twitter. Honestly as much as I am a geek I never really understood or realized how powerful twitter can be until now. I literally have over 50 pages filled with tweets from people all over the region offering support. It’s really unbelievable and a lot and I mean A LOT of people from UAE have also been rallying behind me on this and according to one twitterer (is that the right word?) the Benihana topic is currently trending in the UAE at #8 at #3. A lot of people have also been leaving comments on the Benihana’s twitter account @benihana__ and on their Facebook page. But a few moments ago they deleted ALL the comments from their Facebook page but luckily I saved a pdf with some which you can download [Here]. They were actually a lot more than that before they were deleted. a reader saved a screenshot of all the comments which you can see [Here]

So thank you everyone for your support, I will try my best to keep everyone posted along the way on everything that takes place regarding this case.

——————————————-

Update: I just finished an interview with the Dubai Abu Dhabi based newspaper The National. I will also be on air live tomorrow at 11AM Dubai time on the DubaiEye 103.8FM.

Update2: An amazing reader translated the court order to English. You can download it [Here]

Update3: Please no one call and harass Benihanna or their employees. You can show your support in other ways. Thank you.

Update4: The National article on this lawsuit is up and you can read it [Here]

Update5: I’m now on Gulf News [Here] CNN iReport [Here] and TNW Social Media [Here]


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My Benihana Experience

Posted by Mark

A few days back I posted about Benihana opening up at the Avenues and yesterday night I decided to pass by with Nat and try it out. The service wasn’t too bad for a restaurant that’s just been open for a few days and the staff were really friendly. The restaurant itself is made up of islands and bars with a grill in the middle of each one. You sit around the grill and the chef will come to your table and prepare the food right in front of you which makes things entertaining. It’s actually why I prefer sitting at the bar in Japanese restaurants in general, since you can talk to the chef and watch them put your dish together. The problem with my experience last night though was with the food, it was disappointing to say the least.


[YouTube]

We ordered beef negimayaki for starters followed by an Orange Blossom maki and a Hibachi Chicken. The negimaki arrived looking good and was probably the best thing we had there even though I prefer Maki’s negimaki which has a richer teriyaki sauce. The Orange Blossom was very ordinary, wouldn’t order it again. Now the Hibachi chicken which is basically grilled chicken, that was the worst. The chicken was very chewy (I could swear it was undercooked if not raw) and tasted terrible. Even after I had the chef add some more teriyaki sauce in hopes of improving the taste it didn’t work. I tried to dip it into the sauces that came with the chicken but it was hard to figure out if they were actually making things worse or not. Nat only ate one piece of chicken and left the rest while I needed my protein since I’m on a strict diet and forced myself to eat my whole plate (I can do that) but the after taste was really bad. Even the rice and the veggies that came with it tasted bad AND were under cooked. Once we left I considered picking up a frozen yogurt from Pinkberry even though I hate frozen yogurts but I just needed something to get rid of the aftertaste. A few moments later we ended up at Chocolate Bar ordering the gooey chocolate cake (bye bye diet).

\
[YouTube]

I shot the two videos above of the chef preparing our meal. Benihana are known for the live shows they perform when preparing your dish so I was expecting to see [This] but ended up with the above . Would I go back to Benihana? No I wouldn’t. Their sashimi and maki’s are pretty cheap (KD1.5 for 5 pieces of Salmon sashimi for example) but there are two other Japanese restaurants at the Avenues, Wasabi and Maki, and I would prefer either one of those to Benihana.

——————————————-

Update: Comments have been closed.

Update2: If you read the comments below you will see that the Benihana GM Mike Servo threatened to sue me. Well, Benihana have actually gone ahead with the lawsuit, I got served my papers and my court date is in March. I have been receiving a lot of support from people via twitter, email and blogs. For now my lawyer has advised me not to discuss the case or talk about Benihana, but as soon as he gives me the go ahead I will be sharing all the details.

Update3: I’ve been given the go ahead by my lawyer to talk about the case, here is the court order and more details regarding the lawsuit [Link]

Update4: The amount of support I have been receiving is phenomenal, here is a link to the full media coverage the subject has received so far [Link]


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