No, not me personally but I got interested in this through Google Earth, looking at Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara). I've always been interested in geography - especially Northern and Western Africa. When I looked on Google Earth at almost any part of the desert off the main motorways (N1 and N5), I noticed that, rather than there being roads, there were only tracks, probably camel trails, I thought. Turns out I was wrong in most cases.
Western Sahara is not the kind of place I would have expected to see motorbiking. It is somewhat war torn, especially toward the east of the country. When the Spanish left in the 1970's, they never truly relinquished the "colony" status so it is, technically, the last European African colony. Soon after, Morocco to the North and Mauritania to the South moved in, claiming it as their own. The UN stepped in as a peacekeeping force and called for a referendum of the Sahwari (Western Saharan) people to determine whether they wanted to be incorporated into Morocco or become and independent nation. By this time, Mauritania had relinquished its claim over Sahwari territory. Not so for Morocco, who had claimed the territory since it, itself, became independent from Spain in 1957. Morocco and the US have delayed the proceedings through obfuscation and procrastination because they believe that Moroccans living in Western Sahara should have a vote in the referendum too.
The problem being that in 1975, over 350,000 Moroccan civilians, at the behest of the King, marched over the border into Western Sahara in a protest known as "The Green Walk". Moroccans regard Western Sahara as "Southern Territories" of Morocco, so with so many non-indigenous Moroccans living in Western Sahara, it would be a done deal that the majority would vote to become part of Morocco.
Western Sahara is rich in phosphate and Morocco does not want to abandon such rich pickings. They built the world's longest conveyor system between the phosphate mine at Bau Craa and the coast - more that 100 km (60 miles) long! You can see it clearly on Google Earth. To protect their investment from the forces of the Polisariat (the native Sahwari Peoples Army) they built the longest military wall in the world, which cuts the country from north to south, leaving the almost uninhabitable east of the country to the Sahwari people - these are known as the "Free territories". The Berm (Wall) costs Morocco over a million dollars per day to maintain and man. The East of the country is almost void of towns and has no cities of any size. There are only two major roads entering the region and it is all but impossible to enter the Free Territories from the Moroccan occupied areas.
Needless to say, this has separated families who have not been able to contact each other for over 40 years since wall, known as "The Berm", "The Moroccan Wall" or, by the Sahwaris as "The Wall of Shame" was built. It stretches 2.700 km (1,678 miles) and cuts the country completely in half with no gaps and manned forts every 2 km or so along its length. It is constructed mainly of a sand embankments which are mined on the Sahwari side.
Most Sahawari people fled to Tindouf in Algeria, which is now a huge refugee camp for the Sahwaris. Tindouf is also head quarters for the Polisariat (the Sahwari Army). Since the end of the war of occupation, brought about by the promise of a referendum over 40 years ago, there has been unrest between Morocco and the Polisariat. Over a hundred countries have recognised Western Sahara as a distinct and independent country, yet Morocco, with the support of the US, continues to occupy over two thirds - the most profitable two thirds - of the country. Indeed, the only way to enter Sahwari Controlled Western Sahara is through Algeria or Mauritania, since all land borders from Morocco are closed.
So, you can imagine my surprise to learn that Western Sahara, both East and West are, in fact very popular motorcycle destinations. There are motorcycle tours arranged from Germany, France, Spain and Italy to name just a few and most of the en route Google Community pictures you can click on Google Earth are placed there by motorcyclists.
The races that take place across the East of the country, cross in from Algeria and the Sahwari people welcome them with open arms. There is a programme called "Refugee Tourism" that is used by the Sahwaris to show people what life is like in Sahwari refugee camps in Algeria and Western Sahara. These have proved very successful and have drawn people from all over the world, but mainly Europe and the US. any of those who visit get a first-hand experience of the Sahwaris, their enforced lifestyle and their desire to have an independent country. It is a real education to see and a rare chance to experience their stories of exile, lifestyle and desire to be free in their own country. The hope is that after their experience, some of the "refugee tourists" will become more aware of their plight and help publicise it, as well as bringing more tourists next year.
Motorcycle groups and motor car raleighs are an important source of income for the people and their fight against what they see as Moroccan oppression.
Below is a video of one such MC group who are touring Western Sahara. Judging by the relatively good condition of the roads, I'm assuming this is the West (Moroccan Controlled) part of the country but there are also official races in the east. Anyone who is into off-road motorcycle racing may have heard of the "Sahara Occidental" races. "Sahara Occidental" is Spanish for "Western Sahara". "Occidental" meaning "Western". Indeed, just as we call people from the far east "Oriental", they call people from the west "Occidental". As you can see, the terrain is only for the "extreme" bikers, even though this is probably the best and easiest terrain they will find there. Also of note is that anyone venturing too far off the road in the south or centre of the country needs to be very careful, since venturing too close to the Berm (Moroccan Wall) could get you blown up by a land mine!
This lasts about an hour, so will probably only interest bikers or those who find desert rides and seeing the terrain interesting. Nevertheless, I hope you at least found my little monologue about Western Sahara interesting.