About Uzbekistan

Professor Laurel Gray: we should make united efforts to overcome the current problem
02 April 2020
Professor Laurel Gray: we should make united efforts to overcome the current problem

A true friend of Uzbekistan, passionate about the dance of Central Asian countries, known as “The Pioneer of Uzbek dance in America”, Professor Laurel Gray addressed the people of Uzbekistan with her practical recommendations and call TO STAY HOME.

In solidarity with the Uzbek nation in its fight against COVID-19, the founder of the Silk Road Dance Company Dr. Laurel Gray has hung the Uzbek National Flag on the rooftop of her house in Washington State.

Professor Gray asked Uzbek people to support the efforts of the Uzbek government, who responded quickly to avoid the further spread of COVID-19 in the country, to stay home and take good care of each other. She also wished a quick recovery for those infected with the virus and happy return to their families.

“Assalom Alaykum, Uzbekistan! Greetings from the State of Washington! You are in lock-down, and at 8 PM tonight our entire state will be on lockdown as well. It is a difficult time, but think about this way: it brought us all together. I have to compliment your President for his wise and proactive measures to cut off the connections and travel. Staying in might seem difficult and as a hardship, but actually it is a gift. It is a gift of time. We always say: if we only had time I would do this and that. If I had time, I would read a book, like this book – “Boburnoma”, a book about Uzbek history. Or if I had time I would ask my parents and grandparent what life was like when they were children. Or I would go to Samarkand, maybe after the restrictions are lifted. And I know you can do this, because in 1939 Uzbek people built Fergana Canal in 40 days. Today no one is asking you to go out and dig a canal. You just need to shelter a place with your friends, with your family and not go out. It is just amazing that this little virus has done so much to our lives, but it is actually positive: we can now see how we are all connected, we are all humans and we have to work together to stop the spread of the pandemic” – she said in her video addressed to Uzbek people.

Internationally recognized dance scholar, choreographer, performer, and costume designer, Laurel Victoria Gray specializes in women’s dances from Silk Road cultures and the Islamic World. Her scholarly articles have appeared in many publications including the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Dance, the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, the World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre, and the Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Culture.

Known as “the pioneer of Uzbek dance in America,” Gray has studied dance abroad, including two years at the invitation of Uzbekistan's State Academic Bolshoi Theater. She has lectured, researched, taught and performed dance on five continents, traveling to Egypt, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Australia, Qatar, Singapore, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK and throughout the US. Gray works closely with diaspora communities and embassies to accurately present their cultures. Her ensemble, Silk Road Dance Company, performed at the very first White House Nowruz celebration.

Professor Gray has visited Uzbekistan about 15 times and has been a jury member at such international festivals and events in Uzbekistan as RAQS SEHRI (Magic of a dance), SHARQ TARONLARI and others.

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Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
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