A beneficent businesswoman. She was born in Ankara in 1928. She is the eldest daughter of Vehbi Koç and Sadberk Hanım. She is the sister of the famous businessman Rahmi Koç and Suna Kıraç, aunt of Mustafa Koç. She completed her education in Istanbul American College for Girls and in German Goethe Institute. She knows English and German. She married Dr. Nusret Arsel in 1956.
Semahat Arsel worked as Executive Board Member of Koç Holding AŞ (1964-72 and 1972-96), Chairwoman of Executive Board of Vehbi Koç Foundation, TURYAT Chairwoman of Executive Board, Chairwoman of SANERC (Semahat Arsel Nursing Education & Research Center), Vehbi Koç Foundation Member of Executive Board respectively. She is the Vice Chairwoman of Florence Nightingale Foundation and founder of Koç University Nursing Graduate School. SANERC, which was connected to American Hospital in its foundation, was connected to Koç University Nursing Graduate School in 2004. Arsel is also one of the founder members of TEGV.
Large companies she owns or she is a partner of can be lines up as Koç Holding, Arçelik, Opet, TÜPRAŞ, Yapı Kredi Bankası, TOFAŞ, Otokar, Aygaz, Vehbi Koç Foundation, Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum, Koç University, Sadberk Hanım Museum, Koç Private College. Institutions she contributed to are Vehbi Koç Göz Bankası (1963), İstanbul University Faculty of Medicine Institute of Cardiology (1964), Turkish Education Foundation (1967), Turkish Foundation of Family Health and Planning (1985), Pera Museum (2005).
Vehbi Koç Foundation, whose Chairwoman of Executive board is Semahat Arsel, is the first large private foundation of Turkey, opened by Vehbi Koç on the 17th of January 1969. Vehbi Koç foundation conducted activities in basic requirements of life which are education, health and culture, since its foundation it has been providing services to numerous beneficent persons. After the establishment of the foundation it built numerous schools, dormitories, libraries and health institutions such as clinics thanks to its donations and contributions and transferred these to public institutions for their operation. It gave scholarships to thousands of skilled young people who were in need of financial support in order to create an equality of opportunities.
By the beginning of 1980s, the administration of the foundation started to work intensively in order to realize well-resourced and well-organized projects in fields in which it operates. The first private museum of Turkey Sadberk Hanım Museum and Koç Private College were built. Later Believing in integrity in education, the preparations for Koç University started in 1988 accordingly. The university, which was the first foundation university in its kind, started its educational activities in a very short time such as five years, in 1993.
Other cultural institutions of the foundation, which was not contented with these, are Vehbi Koç and Ankara Research Centers, Suna-İnan Kıraç Akdeniz Civilizations Research Institute. Kaleiçi Museum, which was opened in 2000, became the second private museum of the foundation.
Vehbi Koç foundation, which integrated American Hospital that it had been supporting for long years, started a very large investment to open an exemplary health complex. The foundation started to support the profession of nursing, for which it gave importance, with two of its institutions: American Hospital, Private Amiral Bristol Health Vocational High-School which was transferred to the foundation with American Hospital and Semahat Arsel Nursing Education and Research Center which aimed to provide a multifaceted knowledge for nurses, were established. The foundation started within the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the republic Primary Schools Project which was a turning point in the history of Vehbi Koç Foundation. The foundation also built 13 primary schools in various corners of Turkey in order to support 8-years uninterrupted education. Vehbi Koç Foundation brought a new dimension to the tradition of building school and transferring them to the Ministry of National Education and it internalized the perspective of “Build, transfer, look after”.