Much of the critical research on human resource development (HRD) is positioned within Western constructions of knowledge and orthodoxy. Barring a few exceptions (e.g. there is little critique of the ‘colonial boundaries’ for how HRD is theorized and practiced. Global practice is dominated by neoliberal approaches that do not reflect the realities of human development in diverse geopolitical contexts. In this paper, we advance contemporary theorizing by providing a transnational and postcolonial critique of HRD. We highlight the importance of this lens by evaluating gender and difference in the Middle East (ME). We argue that HRD scholarship should reimagine colonial boundaries, and encourage critical inquiry that reflects the contextual and social complexities of space and place. Our arguments illustrate the importance of Islamic feminism in supporting HRD in the ME, and the intersecting dynamics of gender and employment, considering religious, ethnic, and political contestations.