When people talk about Uzbekistan, many mention the Registan Square, a few talk about the great ancient cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand along the Silk Road and some even know that the territory of Uzbekistan was once a hub of the Islamic Golden Age between the 8th and 13th centuries. However, when I talk about Uzbekistan I prefer to focus on its people. As Winston Churchill once said, in order to understand a country, you have to understand its people first. To understand the people of Uzbekistan, let’s firstly quickly look at the demographic statistics. As of 1st January, 2018, the population of the country is slightly higher than 32.5 million people and 65% of the total population (that is more than 21 million people!) are people below the age of 36. This figure is of utmost importance because it represents the potential vector of development of Uzbekistan’s domestic and foreign policy in the next couple of years. Standard economic theory says that a country can achieve stable and sustainable economic growth in the long run, as long as it has a sizeable young population and is committed in investing in them. However, today we would look at the social aspects of the youth in Uzbekistan, alongside the prospects and issues that they currently face today.
Uzbek Youth Culture – Discover the Dynamic, Creative Millennials!
Posted by British-Uzbek Society on Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Structure, form, and rich ornamentation of the traditional costume, as well as the revival and development of traditional crafts such as weaving, embroidery, and printed cloth, strongly influence the evolution of apparel design in the country. Quite recently, there has been a revival in hand-made apparel which also includes accessories, such as purses, jewellery and so on. The trend nowadays is the recreation of national traditional clothes with the lifestyle of a modern person. Locally designed apparel becomes increasingly popular in the country – an evidence of growing awareness of people’s social, cultural and ethnic identity. Kanishka brand is one of the most recognizable and creative among local designer brands in the prêt à porter class. Its main clients are young, energetic people and those who consider themselves such, marginalized bohemians and students, that is, the largest target segment.
Another tendency is that cottage-based textile manufacturers no longer work for a random user, but cater to a particular apparel designer requiring specific dimensions of repeat compositions and colour combinations, and also make designer-created ornaments. This results in the broadening of the range of textile for apparel, home and office: companion fabrics appear, and with them new thematic patterns, small-repeat iqat compositions and colour diversity. Yet theses textile designs are unique, and the manufacturing technology makes replication impossible; therefore, apparel made of these fabrics following designer sketches can be safely categorized as haute couture.
Annually, the traditional Runway Show is organized at the Westminster International University in Tashkent. Every year young and distinguished designers across Uzbekistan take part in this event in order to provide the opportunity for students to get acquainted with the latest fashion trends in Uzbekistan alongside with the opportunity to participate in the event to get some modelling experience.
Markets – Diversity of People
An oriental bazaar is not only a market place but also a kind of a club where one can meet friends and acquaintances; it is a public entertainment center, a place where news is spread by word of mouth. No wonder it gave life to the well-known expression uzun kulak (‘long ear’). Over here hurry those who love mixing with crowds, who enjoy the flavour of the Orient. In the East a bazaar also acts as a barometer of social life: while the shops dukans are open – everything is alright, if only they close at untimely hour a disorder is likely to happen.
Today’s bazaars in Uzbekistan are quite different from what they were like just 15-20 years ago. Realizing that bazaars play an important role in the trading system, Uzbek government adopted a program of reconstruction of the existing bazaars and construction of new ones in the capital and in the provinces soon after the country had become independent. The program has been successfully implemented. The residents and guests of Tashkent can now appreciate the reconstructed bazaars Eski Juva, Oloy Bozori, Mirobod Bozori, Yunusobod Bozori, Parkent Bozori and others. Their vast trading grounds are now in excellent condition; they are protected from sun and precipitation by domes. Many new stalls now appear under the huge shelters and in spacious pavilions. The bazaars are equipped with powerful refrigerators, storage areas, small-scale mechanisms; good sanitary service is available.
In the past the local farmers used to bring their produce on camels and donkeys, so near bazaar trading grounds there used to be caravanserais for people and fenced with earthen barrier corrals for animals. Today salespeople and shoppers come to bazaars by car. Therefore there have been built guarded parking lots and hotels at all the bazaars.
Street art in Uzbekistan has been steadily growing in the past few years. In the past few years, the annual Street Art Festival in Tashkent has been hold regularly. More recently, artists such as Bekzod Abdullaev has hosted exhibitions, such as a Thousand Suns. A Thousand Suns is the embodiment of culture. Each culture has its own values. The civilizations of Japan, China, India, Africa, Europe and America were represented. All of them have made their precious contribution to the development of society and the history of mankind. In the modern world, they had all these values together, so we decided to name the exhibition “A Thousand Suns”. We have great values, but to fully comprehend it, we need to visually see the history of mankind, which they did in their works.
Music – indie music
In the music industry of Uzbekistan there are three big segments:
- Wedding – dancing music, often copied from Western sources – the main source is live performances at weddings, often in the range of a £1,000
- Non-commercial music – people do it for themselves
- Instrumental music
Food and beverages
- There has been a growing interest towards fast-food consumption, however the fast-food brands are mainly local;
- KFC is currently opening two stores in Tashkent, whereas McDonalds and Starbucks are rumoured to enter Uzbekistan in the next few years;
- No brand loyalty but many young people prefer ordering delivery services;
- Bahriddin Chustiy is one of the most respected young chefs across the country;
- Local food is surprisingly cheaper, set of plov, salad and tea costs £1.50, whereas a hamburger set will cost £2.
- Shisha houses – specifically targeting young and wealthy people; Nightlife – present in major cities but not in rural areas;
- Late vaping boom – vaping become popular couple of years ago but the usage is limited to a certain segment of the youth;
- Chaykhana culture – involves practically the youth on all levels, great hub for reconnecting with friends and an opportunity to network
Aspirations and start-up culture
- A lot of youth are actively using social media platforms, an example is Shams Abdullaev, 20, who manages two pages in Instagram that total 6 million subscribers;
- Although the age of Vines is gone, social media creators appeal through videos and creative content, thereby generating an audience for potential sales;
- “Wind of change” – young generations are looking into ways of running their own business;
- Political reform from the current administration has made the process of setting up your own business much quicker and smoother – with the help of e-gov