Kuwait: Blogger Sued for Restaurant Review

Benihana Kuwait poster

What started as a normal thing, a blogger writing a personal review of a newly opened restaurant, suddenly escalated into online drama when the restaurant manager threatened with a lawsuit. Mark Makhoul, a Lebanese expat-blogger in Kuwait, wrote a review of Benihana Kuwait, on his blog 248am.

Mark said the food was disappointing and described how bad it was in detail. This angered the general manager of the Kuwait restaurant, Mike Servo. He made several comments on Mark's blog and issued a threat of a lawsuit, which was delivered only days later to Mark (see it in Arabic and in English).

Not only do Beninhana Kuwait seek compensation of KD5001 (about $18,000) for damages, but they also request for the Ministry of Information in Kuwait to shut down the website.

The topic is trending on Twitter in Kuwait #BenihanaKUW and there are pages on Facebook to protest their actions, like Boycott-Benihana-Kuwait.

Ansam, a blogger from Kuwait, believes the restaurant handled the situation very badly:

It just saddens me that a restaurant had to file a lawsuit against Mark for writing a review about their restaurant stating his “own” and “personal” opinion. I read it at the time, and read it again (twice) today to find out what really triggered them in the first place… it wasn’t THAT bad to be quite honest!!!

His from Hishersq8 brings up an important point:

As for reviews, in the US or UK, there are food critics. They will say the truth and they are feared from the top restaurants. They see what they see is good or bad. Mark wrote a post and talked about his experience. Maybe Mark is one of the top blogs in Kuwait but I don’t think he would change the mind of 3 Million people not to go to there. He has his rights for his views, everyone does!

Abu Jaij, also from Kuwait, writes:

طبعا لا خلاف على أن حق التقاضى متاح لأى شخص أو جهة إذا وقع ضرر مباشر و متعمد عليه من قبل شخص أو جهة أخرى….و لكن الدعوى المرفوعة على المدون مارك (داست) على مبادئ و لن أقول أبسط الحقوق الإنسانية المكفولة لكل مواطن…و مقيم

مدونة مارك مدونة شخصية من خلالها يعبر هو عن آرائه الشخصية حول ما يقوم هو بتجربته شخصيا…فهو لا يمثل مؤسسة أو مصلحة تجارية تنافس هذا المطعم اليابانى…. و هو يقوم بتقييم المطاعم كهواية و لا يحترفها حتى يقال عنه بأنه قام (بتشويه سمعة مطعم) متعمدا

من متابعتى لمدونة مارك على مدى سنوات كنت أقرأ تقييمه للمطاعم كنوع من (الترفيه) فهم ليس (مقيّم محترف) أو شيف عالمى حتى أعتبر كل ما يقوله (حقائق) و معلومات دقيقة لا تقبل راى مخالف

أرجو من أصحاب المطعم المعنى سحب دعواهم ضد المدون مارك….فما عبر عنه بتقييمه هو رأيه الشخصى صحيحا كان أو خاطئا…و إن كان رأيه مسموع من قبل الكثيرين لا يعنى هذا أنه الرأى الوحيد و الأخير فى تقييم مطعمكم

Of course there is no arguing with the right for anyone to bring lawsuits if there is a direct harm from a person or entity, but the lawsuit against Mark step on not only on the basic principles but the most basic human rights guaranteed to every citizen and expat.

Mark's blog is personal, he can express his own opinions about what he personally does, he doesn't represent a company that is competing with this Japanese restaurant, he reviews restaurants as a hobby, so you can't say he tried to defame the restaurant.

From my following of Mark's blog I have read his restaurant review as a kind of entertainment, he is not a professional reviewer or an international chef so I can's accept all he says as absolute fact.

I hope that the owners of said restaurant withdraw their lawsuit against Mark. What he said is his own opinion, be it right or wrong, and if his opinion is followed by many people that doesn't mean he is the last and only review for your restaurant.

The restaurant is a local franchise of the international restaurant chain Benihana. US blog BoingBoing called the COO and Executive Vice President of Benihana Tokyo who said he had not heard about the lawsuit.


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