How to behave in Uzbekistan
Dress CodeThere is no special dress code for everyday use, especially in Tashkent and other major cities where people, particularly, the youth, enjoy full liberty with clothing. You can frequently encounter young ladies wearing traditional Islamic covers, but this is a personal preference rather than a must.
Also, among Uzbek women it has been popular to wear traditional dresses made of locally produced fabrics, such as khan atlas. These dresses are very convenient and colorful, and really make a difference on the street.
In some provinces, however, such as Ferghana Valley, it would be better to avoid wearing shorts. Same rule is applied when visiting religious places, mosques, mausoleums, etc. Also, ladies should cover their shoulders and chest and preferably wear a hat or a headscarf.
In summer time it would be advisable to follow the above recommendation to protect yourself from the sun. Also, sun protection lotions can be used.
EtiquetteUzbek society is a fanciful blend of religious and cultural norms, traditions and codes, some of which root in the Islamic and even Pre-Islamic eras, and Soviet past, whereas others come with growing Western influence of the present.
Uzbek people are known for their hospitality. They are happy to have guests in their homes. Such an invitation will be followed by generous feast and drinks. Local people always serve as many dishes as they have in stock. What is often seen by visitors as an unreasonable waste of food, is in reality the sign of respect for the valuable guest. It does not matter whether you eat it all or not, the rule is that plates should never be empty and guests should feel not in the least embarrassed by possible shortage of food.
Unlike some countries, it is not accepted to drink beer or other alcohol drinks on the street, though foreign guests can get away with it. Smoking in public places or on public transport is not prohibited, but a woman with a lit cigarette on the street may provoke an unwanted reaction.
Women generally enjoy equal rights and are free to behave same way as men. But it is a national tradition that girls are brought up in the spirit of modesty and conservatism so they choose an appropriate behavior for themselves.
LanguageThe Uzbek language belongs to the family of Turkic languages and during the 20th century a series of linguistic reforms was carried out to replace the initial Arabian alphabet by the Latin script, then by Cyrillic during the Soviet time. After independence in 1991 Latin letters were re-introduced and are in effect now.
Russian is used almost everywhere too, in some regions Tajik is prevalent.
These days many people, especially the youth, speak some English and the passers-by on the street will do their best to show direction if asked. Knowledge of a few Uzbek words will be appreciated and taken as a sign of respect.