How to behave in Uzbekistan
There 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.
Uzbek 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.
The 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
Russian is used almost everywhere too, in some regions Tajik is
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.